Sunday, 14 September 2014
Reminiscences of presents past
I remembered that one year I had my heart set on a train set. You know the one I mean? A beautiful steam locomotive all shining in black, pulling an open container full of coal, and this pulling a carriage with people clearly visible through the windows. The set included a number of rails which when linked together would make a large circle; and you could also buy various accessories like a railway station, ticket office, more rails, carriages and so on.
I'd imagined buying all the additional accessories with my pocket money and building a rail network that would be the envy of any transport system you could think of.
I wrote several letters to Father Christmas explaining precisely which train set I was after and pointing out that I had been a good boy all year round; just in case he didn't know.
On Christmas day I did not get that train set at all. Instead, my auntie had knitted me a pullover and a little train locomotive. I mean ... is she mad or what? A knitted train locomotive? I ask you ... how can you get a train locomotive made of wool and stuffed with pieces of cotton to go round and round? She didn't even knit me a set of rails!
I always wondered about the sanity of that woman. She must have been light-brained and a few tomatoes short of a salad, as they say. She was always knitting something. Tea cosies to keep the teapot warm, hats or bonnets to keep our heads warm, scarves to keep our neck warm, gloves and mittens, socks and booties to keep our hands and feet warm.
On another Christmas she knitted us all pencils and pens pullovers. Let me explain. She knitted long thin tubes the length of a pencil with different color wool. A bit like the sleeve of your jumper or jersey but much smaller. The idea is that you push your pencil or pen through the tubes to keep them warm.
Is she mental or what? Do pencils feel the cold perchance?
And when we did as she suggested, every time we tried to write the pens would slide into the tube as we pressed on the paper.
Eventually the silly woollen sleeves were thrown away in a drawer. Can you suggest another use for woollen tubes six inches long?
Another year I asked my Father for a computer for my Birthday. He gave me a packet of crayons instead. He said he couldn't buy me a computer because it hadn't been invented yet!
Actually, he was right. Computers hadn't been invented until years later. But a packet of crayons is hardly a substitute is it?
I asked my Mom for a helmet or hard hat for when I go out on my bicycle. I didn't have a bicycle at the time, but I was always forward thinking ... you know, just in case one day I got a bike. Instead she bought me a set of non-stick frying pans.
When I got married, we decided that we did not want any gifts or presents at all. We wrote in the invitation letters that we'd like everyone to come along and enjoy a nice toast to Love and Happy Life ever after. On the day in question everyone turned up with a toaster as a gift. We had at least 150 of the kitchen appliances.
I suppose the most useful present I was ever given was from my uncle when he gifted me a roll of double-sided sticky tape. I asked him why and he explained I could use the tape to pull back my sticking out ears. I had terrible sticking out ears as a child. I looked like a car with its doors open.
Eventually my parents sold our dog and the lawnmower to pay for my ears to be operated on. I had the operation on one ear. Unfortunately the doctor died shortly afterwards.
So now I have an ear looking normal and the other still sticking out. At the slightest breeze I spin round like a hotel revolving door.
As I was sitting there in the garden reminiscing I suddenly had to get up and go indoors. The wind unexpectedly picked up and I started rotating fast like a spinning top.
Have you ever had a well-meaning gift which did not quite fit with what you had in mind?