Wednesday, October 29, 2008



My family loves laughter, but what they love more then anything is teasing one another. We love to honor one another with gifts that I’m certain some families would find shocking, or maybe a ‘tad’ in the realm of bad taste. The annual Family Christmas Eve Gift Giving Gala just naturally became the opportune time to show our regard for one another with surprises that would have the rest of the group whooping with belly laughs when the receiver opened the box.

There was an open invitation to any one that wanted to join us ... the more the merrier. Christmas of 1984 the invitation was accepted by my gentlemanly Southern friend, Scott. He was new to the off kilter rhythm of my family when he opened a large box with a tag that said “From the Family”.

He had a gold lions head charm that he wore on a gold chain. It was a lovely piece of jewelry and he often talked about having rubies inserted in the eyes of the lion someday. So one afternoon I asked if I could see it and when he handed it to me I slipped it into my purse. I kept him talking and laughing until the charm was forgotten. Days later when he asked if I had seen it I told him no, and because he thinks I am good and honest he believed me. I had the rubies put in for him and the jeweler put the bejeweled charm in a beautiful gold box. When he opened that gold box and saw his charm with rubies for eyes I thought he was going to cry he was so pleased. The reason that I told you that story is because I want you to be able to see how we had softened him, how we had put a beautiful smile on his gentleman’s face. Then we handed him the “From the Family” box.

He opened the box and parted the tissue paper with gentle fingers. His face was full of excitement and expectation, but when the tissue paper parted he found a doll. It was a doll made from panty hose that had been stuffed, shaped and sewn to make a head, two arms, and two legs. It had laughing eyes, a prominent stuffed nose and long brown hair that touched it’s shoulders. The fur that made the hair also made a beautiful long beard that touched the dolls feet. Scott was very confused. He looked from one family member to the other wondering what madness made us think that he would enjoy receiving a doll.

He turned to me and whispered, “Why would your family give me a doll?”

“Don’t you think it’s cute. It’s an honor to be given the family doll. They must really like you. Why don’t you touch his beard. It’s really a lovely beard, isn’t it. Lift if up and see the precise needle work that has gone into it.”

He gave me a quizzical look, but he did as I suggested and gently lifted the beard. Then he jumped three feet into the air. The minute that the beard was raised a huge stuffed penis flipped straight up. The family went ballistic. They were laughing so hard some of them had to hold their sides.

Scott? His face was bright pink, but he couldn’t stop himself, he raised the beard again and just stared at the stuffed, erect penis and then he laughed as hard as the quirky family that he was spending Christmas Eve with.

My mother had made the doll for my sister’s husband several years prior. She didn’t tell any of us that she was making it so when my brother-in-law opened the box the whole family laughed until we thought we were going to explode. My brother-in-law kept it for a year and then the next Christmas he surprised everyone by passing it on to a new family member. The doll became a family tradition. You were allowed to keep it for a year then you had to give it to someone the following Christmas. The growing boys in the family could hardly wait until they were old enough to receive ’the doll’. It became almost a rite of passage.

One year my son, of the wicked sense of humor, had pulled a prank on me so unexpected that it begged for a payback. Christmas Eve was just a few weeks away ... a perfect time for public humiliation.

I took a canvas garden glove and stuffed it to look as if it contained a hand. I stitched all of the fingers and the thumb to the palm of the glove. EXCEPT, I left the middle finger, stuffed and making a statement, sticking straight up. I attached it to a base and spray painted the whole thing a beautiful gold. I put a wreath of green around the base and put gold and red balls among the greenery. And on Christmas Eve I gave him the “Golden Finger Award”. It was the hit of the party.

My son was loath to pass it on. He saw it as a testament to his ability to ’get’ his mother. When he was in the 4th grade I hid behind the front door and when he walked in from school I jumped out and yelled “BOO”. It scared the bejesus out of him. At the time he swore he would spend the rest of his life getting even. As he saw it The Golden Finger was testament to the fact that he had lived up to his vow. He nestled it among his brushes and paint and left it on his art shelf all year long.

He had so many people clamoring to get their chance to receive ‘the finger’ that he finally gave it to a friend that was spending Christmas Eve with us and, just by chance, really deserved it. He also kept it out all year.

And then there is the time my father visited a joke shop and came home with a very realistic looking lump of fecal matter. He left it on my mother’s beautiful white shag carpeting. Her reaction was so adverse that the poor innocent dog didn’t stop trembling for a week. And my father got it, all wrapped up in tissue and glitter, for a Christmas gift! It was labeled the “S*&t of the Year Award“.

One year we decided to focus on my mother. She had let gas at a very un-lady like and inopportune time. We all knew how embarrassed she had been, but it became a running joke among those of us that loved her. Do you have any idea how many things are out there to buy that glorify the simple act of letting gas. We found a trophy that named her the “Old Fart of the Year”, a tee shirt with the word written across the chest, a plaque glorifying all impulsive gas expulsions, and a gold edged graduation certificate certifying that the graduate had officially entered the highest level of ‘gas expulsion’ expertise. I don’t know what she did with the gifts we had worked so hard to find to honor her performance, but once opened they seemed to mysteriously disappear. That was the same year that my son gave his uncle a blonde blow up doll. Maybe mom stuffed all her ‘fart’ gifts into the gapping mouth of that doll.

We have had so much fun through the years, but the prevailing feeling on these Christmas Eve’s has been the love of family. I have been given such a wonder. I have a family that loves another and that is the ultimate gift one can ever receive. A gift that can never be bought, but certainly can cause some outrageous laughter.

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