Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Gertrude's Christmas


 I may have mentioned previously that Aunt Gertrude, eccentric as she is, is not really as tight-fisted and mean as she leads one to believe.

Before she came to visit us in the UK and stay for a (long) time, she lived in Australia where she moved many years ago, and we had not seen her since. Our only communications with this distant aunt was by yearly Christmas cards. And that’s how she gained the reputation, in our minds at least, of being rather mean.

She used to re-cycle old Christmas cards, and not for any environmental reasons or to save the planet … no, she re-cycled them because it was cheaper than buying new ones every year. She used to save old cards sent to her by relatives and friends and then glue a piece of paper over their best wishes, and write her own seasonal message instead.

The first time we received such a card we were astounded and amused, but yearly, we learned to peel off the paper she glued on the card to discover the original sender. We played a guessing game of “friend or relative” before peeling off Auntie’s message to discover whether we’d guessed the originator of the card correctly. One year she had re-cycled one of our own old cards we had sent her!

Anyway, once she arrived at our home any suspicions of an avaricious old lady quickly faded away. She is a kindly person, most generous, almost to a fault, albeit with quite a few eccentricities which make her somewhat tolerable despite her grating pronounced Australian accent.

It’s traditional in our family to open the Christmas presents, which Santa left under the tree, when we return from midnight Mass. This year was no different.

As we sipped our cups of hot chocolate and enjoyed the mince pies we eagerly opened our presents and thanked each other with hugs and kisses.

To everyone’s surprise, and initial confusion, we discovered that Aunt Gertrude had bought each of us a very large chocolate egg.

Chocolate eggs for Christmas? Surely not.

As we jokingly enjoyed the surprise she explained that she had bought them a few days after Easter because the shops had reduced the price. And, reasoned Aunt Gertrude, “chocolate is chocolate cobber, no matter what shape it is.”

To be fair, this was not an act of meanness per se, because the eggs looked expensive, albeit the shop may have reduced them a little. But her logic was that “you never pay the shopkeeper what they ask for, but what you’re willing to pay!

“If the price is not right cobber, you just don’t buy it. You can always go without!”

Impeccable logic one might say. And perhaps a sign of her careful management of money. Something which today’s younger generation may have forgotten.

But then she spoilt it all when we came to open her second presents left under the tree. Each one of us received a very expensive sweater. And I mean very expensive. The kind of jersey you see advertised on TV in very up-market shops.

“What is the point” I wondered “of saving a few pennies by buying Easter eggs cheaply after Easter, and then spend a fortune on these magnificent jumpers?”  

But then, that’s our Aunt Gertrude.

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18 comments:

  1. That is too funny about the cards. It reminds me of how you can put new photos in front of old in a frame, but then one day you take them all out and-- voila-- history. One day the old Christmas cards with little notes taped over older notes will be a walk through time. See, she's a historian! 😂 ok, that was a stretch, but still. It is kind of cool.

    So true about chocolate though. I mean, did anyone NOT eat the egg?

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    1. She was not mean, but rather a bit careful with money. I agree with you, and her, about the chocolate eggs. The weight of chocolate does not equate with the price. We pay more because it is shaped as an egg or a Father Christmas.

      The cards was her way of "saving the planet" by re-cycling. So she said.

      God bless you, Sandi.

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  2. The recycled cards made me smile as well...

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    1. A novel way to re-cycle. Perhaps I should recycle her cards back to her!

      God bless, Ryan.

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  3. Oh, my goodness, Victor! This was hilarious! Aunt Gertrude sounds like quite a gal!

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    1. Living with her was quite an adventure. I'm so glad you enjoyed this episode Cheryl.

      God bless you and yours.

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  4. Already, I love your Aunt Gertrude!
    The back-and-forth of Christmas cards sounds pretty darn comical. So much so, I might consider doing the same thing next year.

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    1. It is comical, but I can see her logic. If we are serious about re-cycling then why not send each other the same cards? These days the postage is expensive too. In the UK to send a letter to a UK address is $0.92 Imagine if you had to send many cards at Christmas the cost involved. Overseas postage is more expensive.

      God bless you, Mevely.

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  5. Her card recycling makes sense to me and the guessing part makes her cards way more fun than any others.

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    1. Yes Joeh; it was fun having to guess who had originally sent her the card. I suppose she meant well by it all.

      God bless you and yours.

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  6. She may be on to something with those cards. Does seem a shame to just throw them away! : )
    Does seem funny about the eggs and then the expensive sweaters.

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    1. I tend to agree with auntie about the cards. Also about the eggs since the chocolate content/weight is too little compared to the price paid. And then she spent the money saved on the expensive sweaters.

      God bless you, Happyone.

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  7. If she thought the jumpers were worth the cost, then she would pay it, and she did. She values things a bit differently, is all.

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    1. Yes, she does value things differently. She felt we were worth the expensive sweaters.

      God bless you, Mimi.

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  8. I love Aunt Gertrude! Because she is so unique, she sure makes fun memories for you all! She won't soon be forgotten. Thanks for sharing her with us!

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    1. She certainly made enough memories for me to write a book about it.

      God bless you, Diane.

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  9. LOL! What a character Aunt Gertrude is!

    All the best Jan

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    1. She certainly is a character, and very generous too.

      God bless, Jan.

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