Posted by on Jan 11, 2009 in Family, Memoir, Personal | 29 comments

My father was notorious for imaginative gift-giving, particularly in the last years of his life.

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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!

Anyways….

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.