The Tale of the Christmas Sausage

MonteThe holidays really are magical.  There’s the beautiful sparkling tree, the animals dressed as Santa, the boxes of Raisin Bran under the tree…  It’s particularly tough to top the gift of fiber.

My paternal grandmother was a legend.  She was…  How can I put this diplomatically?  She was a woman of many quirks.  In my family, if you mention the name Grandma, one of two things happens.  Family members either start grinning mischievously or they sigh and shake their heads.  She had that effect.

There were a lot of unusual things about my Grandmother.  She grew up in the Bronx where she had a live-in maid.  My grandfather taught her how to drive and cook.  Sorta.   She was extremely creative, but her refusal to follow directions usually didn’t bode well.  The woman could ruin just about anything, even something as simple as a salad.   Naturally that didn’t prevent her from constantly trying to feed us; it was her way of saying I love you.

She also had this strange fascination with hair.  Every time I saw her, she would rave over my hair, almost as though she had never seen me before.  Then she would tell me how lucky I was to have such a thick head of hair.  We had a lot of conversations about hair.

However, what was truly amazing about my grandma was her melodrama.  From the time I was a wee lass, my grandmother was dying.  This wasn’t based on scientific fact, illness, or even nihilism.  She was a healthy eater, took daily walks, and never smoked.  She rarely even caught a cold, but nevertheless, she was convinced she was on the brink of death for twenty years.

The years where she was truly convinced she was dying we would get awesome Christmas presents.  She wanted us to have nice things to remember her, so we’d get beautiful jewelry, always with the price tag still attached.  Leaving the price tag on the gift was key.

Sadly, we weren’t clever enough to use her hypochondria to our advantage, and most years we didn’t get nice gifts.  More often than not, we’d get a savings bond from my grandfather, a box of cereal, and one small toy.  Occasionally, she’d also re-gift, but we weren’t really offended by this.  The re-gifted presents were usually the better loot.  The worst was always when you were the one who unwrapped the box of Raisin Bran.  Unless you haven’t eaten in two weeks, it’s truly difficult to fake excitement over Raisin Bran.

We tried though; we’d thank her as profusely as possible.  Then we’d go home, and we’d write her another thank you.  My mom was very big on good manners, regardless of the gift.

The Bear of Wisdom-RedThe year I was seventeen was pivotal.  My grandfather had passed away earlier in the year, and we didn’t see my grandmother until after Christmas.  We kinda knew we’d be getting re-gifted, but none of us cared.  She ended up coming over on New Years Day with five packages.  My sister got an umbrella for $5, and I got a small rhinestone pin for $8.  My mom received a pair of orange kitchen towels on sale for $5.

My father was the last to open his gift.  It was shaped like a cylinder, and inside was… A THIRD OF A SAUSAGE!  Apparently she had tried it, ate a third of it, gave a third to my aunt, and saved a third for my dad.  She didn’t think to give him anything else, and the sausage was room temperature from sitting out.  Why did she give her only living son a third of a sausage for Christmas?  Because is was just so good, it had to be shared.

After she left, my father walked over to the trash can and threw out the sausage.  That year my mother told us we didn’t have to write Thank You cards.

What’s the worst Christmas gift you’ve ever received?

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26 Responses to The Tale of the Christmas Sausage

  1. Go Jules Go says:

    I mean, if you had said it was a two-thirds eaten box of Raisin Bran, I would have asked you what anyone was complaining about, but the sausage, well, yes, that just seems unsanitary.

    Also leaving price tags on all gifts is key. We all know $1 spent is = $1 love.

    And you do have nice hair.

    • Ha! I cut it off years ago, and donated it. :)

      I’m telling you whoever got the $8 pin AND the box of Frosted Mini Wheats was obviously the most loved grandchild. Sadly, that was usually my cousin Becky and not me.

  2. raeme67 says:

    Ha, ha! Too funny! A third of a sausage! Did you open up a half a box of crackers to go with them?

  3. quirky can be good, quirky can be bad–your grandma illustrated this nicely–I have never received a “worst” Christmas gift–other than those gifts I know were bought out of “having to” instead of wanting to so it was obvious my tastes were not taken into the equation–this can be worse than a third of a sausage because at least she wanted to share something she thought was good

    • She was actually the sort of person who laughed all the time, even at herself. I honestly think she had good intentions, and was just sorta… clueless. (She was a bit like me in that she was disorganized and forgetful.) But she was unintentionally horrid to my father.

  4. The sausage gift killed me. That is something my mother in law would do. She brings my kids birthday cakes that are already half eaten. Then after the party, she asks to bring the rest of the cake back home with her.

    Worst gift? Toss up between a giant ceramic Winnie the Pooh bird feeder that looked like it still had some bird poo in it and an old torn up book on quilting. Because, gosh darnit! I just love to quilt!

    • Half-eaten cake!!!???? My grandma did that too!! Isn’t your husband from Dearborn Heights originally? I’ll bet if I were to thoroughly trace my ancestry, I’d find out we were somehow related!

      What? You don’t spend your days turning your kids old clothing into quilts in your spare time, when you’re not studying for school, cooking, cleaning, and raising two kids? For shame. Next you’re going to tell me you don’t darn socks either…

  5. becca3416 says:

    Your grandmother is amazing. I would never get tired of guessing what penis shaped object she would put in my stocking next!

  6. Wow. Cereal. Wow . . . that’s like better than socks. Once my mom got a hat from my aunt that had clearly been regifted – it had hairs in it. Yay.

  7. The Hook says:

    I’d have to say recieving an article of clothing when you’re a kid can be considered a loss in the Christmas gift ledger…

  8. Mooselicker says:

    You do know we’re related right? My grandma is notorious for bad gifts. She’s always trying new jams and spreads in places she visits then brings them back to give to the family. Last year the foods she gave me were Hawaiian honey and a bag of lentils. The Hawaiian honey was good although I would have rather gone to Hawaii. The lentils were lentils. The worst thing ever though that she gave me was banana bread. I was 10 years old at the time which makes it worse. No 10 year old wants bread. I also thought it was a t-shirt so I started squeezing the wrapped bread only to discover I had pretty much destroyed it.

    • Lentils share a LOT in common with Raisin Bran. No matter what, it will basically just always be food that gives you digestive problems. And my grandma used to also gift us with jams and jellies she bought while travelling!

  9. I think I spit out one third of my right lung just now from laughing

  10. Pingback: Holy Sheet: A Holiday Giveaway – The Entrants! | The Byronic Man

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