GIVING A GIFT, whether it is at Christmastime, or for any other occasion, can be a tricky business. If gift giving was easy there wouldn’t be closets filled with truly ugly sweaters, neckties and the questionable objet d’ art.
We’ve all been on both ends of this process, the receiving of gaily wrapped packages filled with inedible fruitcakes, and the sending of a gift to a distant niece or nephew who would rather slit their wrists than be caught dead in the sweater you thought was just lovely.
I can innocently say that I was just a spectator when the Worst Gift of All Time was presented.
The occasion was the Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary of my Aunt Paulette and my Uncle Tom. A large number of family members had gathered to help them celebrate this momentous event.
They had weathered fifty years of an argumentative, alcohol fueled, high cholesterol marriage. They had produced one daughter who proved quite adept at having babies, and one son who proved quite adept at not fathering any. In fact, their son – Dominic, possessed only one true skill. He made everyone else in the family scratch their heads as they mumbled to themselves, “What’s wrong with that boy?”
On the day of the Anniversary Celebration my aunt and uncle enjoyed having toasts being raised in their honor and gifts piled high on the dining room table. There were several Crock-Pots, two Fondue Sets, gift certificates to local restaurants, and an All-Expenses Paid Three Day Cruise in the Caribbean. That cruise would have gotten more “oohs” and “ahhhs,” except for the fact that we were all in Cleveland, Ohio, a good thousand miles from the nearest port-of-call of the cruise ship.
As the party was winding down it was noted that Dominic had not given his parents anything yet – not so much as a, “Way to go!” or “Congrats, Mom and Dad.” As all eyes turned to him, he stood up to address the room.
“I spent a lot of time trying to decide what to get you. I thought that it had to be something special.” A worried murmur worked its way around the table.
“I thought that, since you are both getting older, I should get you something that would be enjoyable and good for you. So, if you can hold on for just a second I’ll be right back with my gift.”
With that he ran from the room. We heard the back door open and close and then a car door. A few moments later Loving Son Dominic came back into the room and placed his gift in the center of the table.
We all had to admit that it was a very nice Cocker Spaniel.
A COCKER SPANIEL! He gave his parents a dog for their fiftieth wedding anniversary?
I didn’t know that a room with twenty people in it could be that quiet.
Throughout the fifty years of their marriage they had never had a dog. Or a cat. Or a pet of any kind. They didn’t even have pet names for each other. But Dominic reasoned that THIS was the time for them to get a Cocker Spaniel.
Both my aunt and uncle lived into their mid 90s, driving each other crazy until the end. They never changed – except in one way.
Up until their final days they made sure to always walk, pet, and smother with love, that Cocker Spaniel. They named it “Goldie,” and, using his own unique reasoning, their son had given them a truly golden gift for their Golden Wedding Anniversary.