My father was notorious for imaginative gift-giving, particularly in the last years of his life.
Rarely the one to act on a suggestion, if he saw something he thought you needed, he’d get it; never you mind, it was something you couldn’t even sell on Ebay!
Occasionally, his choices delighted my children–the teddy bear rug that was bigger than they were (and played music!) and the animated carousel set that played your choice of a dozen Christmas songs. Loudly. Tacky, but a child’s amusement.
If I was having a brainstorming session with my brothers or sister, I’m sure we could come up with a comprehensive list that would leave you scratching your head and us giggling with remembrance. A few things come to mind:
- Wood-handled, serrated steak knives (this wouldn’t have been so bad, b u t, each one of his children received the number of knives of our family members instead of a complete set, they were bought at a flea market and looked used, and because he was paranoid concerned about safety, the selling point to him was their rounded tip). The irony with this gift is it took me years to realize they are great steak knives–much better than my fancy schmancy “pretty” wedding gift ones! And I wish I had more of them….
- Wood-beaded car seat covers (another flea market find; I couldn’t bring myself to use ’em because a) THEY’RE HIDEOUS, b) I felt like a New York City taxi driver.)
- An assortment of plain, wood picture frames (hmmm, I’m just realizing his partiality to wood. Again, these wouldn’t have been so bad, but they had neither hanging hardware attached nor the easel thingy on the back of them, so unless we modified them, they’d have to be propped up or set on a stand.)
Funny how people change as they get older; he never would have set foot in a flea market before his late 50s, he was much too impatient for that!
The item pictured above is a tribute to my father’s random gift-giving; my brother had them made for me and my siblings. When I first posted this, I asked readers if they had any ideas about what it could be, and Tater Mama guessed it out of the box: a bathmat.
Daddy was also known to impose his preferences if he thought they were better than your own, and when he discovered this new squishy bathmat, he had to get one for all of us! I did try it, but I couldn’t stand it, so it promptly went to the trash.
My brother had other things in mind and fabulous foresight….
Daddy’s health was in decline that Christmas, and for some reason Jason held on to his bath mat, not using it, but not throwing it away, either. The next Christmas, my father’s health had declined, he was mentally and physically incapacitated, and he died shortly after the new year.
The Christmas following Daddy’s death (last Christmas), Jason gave me and my siblings a matching gift–the shadowboxed bathmat piece pictured above.
I’m sure if Daddy realized it was going to be the last gift he ever bought for us, if he knew it would be memorialized in shadowbox forever, he might’ve chosen something else.
I’m kind of glad he didn’t know…the kitschy randomness of a bathmat sums up a season I don’t want to forget; it’s given me reason to smile and remember a part of my father’s personality that set him apart.
It looks very much like a piece of a bathmat. I’m sure I’m wrong, and I have no idea what it really is!
Wall-E comes to mind. I’m not sure why. Must be the extra-large mug of tea that awaited me when I came in from walking the dog on this bitterly cold Canadian winter’s night. Either way, I’m digging the geometry.
Hmmm. This reminds me of a toy that a lot of kids had back in the 80’s. You had a collection of multicolored plastic beads or cylinders that you would place into a “frame” and then heat (in the oven, I think). The beads would melt partway and hold whatever shape you put them in. Yep, I’m old, so I’m sure that’s not what this is! Do tell!
What a wonderful memento. I wish I had the foresight that your brother did. I’m one of those “Dangit! I wish I hadn’t thrown that away!” people.
It’s pretty in its own way. And especially so when you know the story behind it. Thanks for sharing!
That is such a neat gift! After my grandfather passed away, my Aunt took the chandelier that hung in their house for years (it was old with plastic hanging things on it), and gave each of the grandkids 5 of those things that hang down, made them look like icicle ornaments. I put mine on my tree every year! My Aunt made something a bit different for my mom and her brother’s widow…made from the same chandelier!
That’s a very nice an humoristic tribute to your father !
Loved this post, Robin! And yes, we do have something like that: a coffee mug with artistic renderings from the nieces, filled with real dirt… and a plastic cactus.
The husband’s grandmother used the coffee mug as a pseudo-planter. At grandma’s death, the husband’s sister discovered a box of stuff with her name on it, with the plastic cactus thing inside. She just couldn’t bring herself to keep it because, well, because. So we took it home. Via an airplane.
It appealed to my sense of humor.
You Dad was a gem. It was great of your brother to carry on Dad’s tradtions of quirkiness. Hmmm, I wonder if he’ll be able to stop.
Hee! Yeah, I figured I was totally wrong. But what a great story! And definitely hold on to those memories. When I was a know-it-all kid, I swore I was not, nor would I ever be, anything like my parents. Now that I’m an adult, I see how wrong I was! And while I don’t agree with everything they did, they are both pretty neat people and I like to think I got the best aspects of both of them. I hope 🙂 Thanks and happy FM!
Your brother had such a clever idea. I love this. When my grandmother died, she didn’t leave much behind, but my aunt took one of grandma’s old quits, cut it up and made pillows for each of the grandkids. I really cherish mine. Like your gift, that pillow is so fitting of my loved one because it’s so comfortable and comforting, just like her. I loved this post.
And every time you look at it, you remember him … Beautiful!
Robin, that is so sweet. It’s great that your Dad had you all on his mind in the end, what a great man.
Thanks for stopping by the blog today. I’ve actually been reading yours for a while now. You’d think I would’ve commented on an earlier post, wouldn’t you?!
When I opened my Google Reader this morning, our son (who’s 2 1/2) was sitting next to me and he said, “Wook, Mama. A baffmat.” 🙂
I loved the story about your Dad. It sounds as though he was a character.
Your father sounds a wonderful character, and his penchant for buying the ‘unusual’ so reminds me of my grandfather.
I think your brother came up with a great memento.
Actually my dear, rather than thoughtless gifts I think your daddy was very practical in his thinking! Sure he picked stuff he would have liked for himself but thats probably how he was thinking, “If I would use it surely they would!” What a great idea your brother had saving a bit of the mat for all of you!
Seems to me it would make a better bathmat if it wasn’t under a piece of glass, but that’s just me.
PS. I can’t believe I missed the New Year thing (yes it was there alright), please accept my apologies.
What a lovely tribute to your Dad and a quirky salute goes to your brother for thinking of it.
The whole time I was reading I was thinking of my grandma Jean. 🙂 Wish I could remember the last thing she gave me. I think it was some stained baby clothes she bought at a garage sale. 🙂 Glad your brother was thinking ahead. 🙂
That is OUTSTANDING. I love how clever your brother is. A picture of your Dad is sweet, I’m sure, but to capture who he was like that is truly a gift.
Your dad sounds a lot like my dad! His gifts were either gems or complete disasters.
Wow, this is just the most wonderful thing! I love how you described the gifts, and I love how your brother modified his gift for all of you, so that you could remember your dad.
What a touching story. Love this.
Some people are so good a buying the perfect gift. I often wish that I was better a selecting the “right” gift. On the other hand, it really is the thought that counts. You have intersting way of preserving the gift from your father…a bathmat in a frame. I end up just storing such sentimental items in the closet where they collect dust.
YOU THREW AWAY YOUR FATHERS GIFT?
Oh dear. I hope he never came to shower at your house. hee hee.
I have quite a few things like that from my father. Quirky — that’s a good descriptive word for it…. Dear and close to my heart they all are, because they came from him….
I have a number of particularly baffling pieces from Grandmama FriedOkra’s costume jewelry collection, and have asked to please be granted my Grandaddy Clover’s red and blue spinning electric shoe shiner. Everybody else fights over the big screen TV, and me? I want the really odd stuff. But then again, I have odd relatives. I guess that’s to be expected. Kudos to your brother for taking it upon himself to begin building a suitable legacy for your magnificent sounding Dad.
What a touching story — reminds one that it is the thought that really counts when giving gifts. It’s touching that your father thought so much of his children that he chose something that reminded him of them instead of just throwing some money in a card.
Treasure that piece of bathmat 🙂
I love it! What a wonderful gift, from your brother that is. 🙂 It is kind of quirky, but it sounds like your dad really thought about you guys.
I don’t know if I have told you this before or not, but I love coming here. You write so well that your stories suck me in and make me want to just keep reading everything I can find. You should write a book. Really!