Around the time I was nine years old, my mom decided she no longer wanted to deal with a real tree. It was also the time when, a few days before Christmas, Dad placed a huge, beautifully wrapped box topped with a large red bow next to the artificial tree. My mom, two brothers and I were shocked and couldn’t wait to see what was inside. We never recalled a time when Dad got such a large gift for Mom.
Mom had a little spring in her step, after the box appeared. It seemed as if daily chores didn’t seem as tedious, now that she had such a marvelous present sitting by the tree.
Finally, Christmas Day arrived. Even though the present waited by the tree, we continued to follow our custom of eating dinner first, then opening presents. Mom made a turkey with all the fixings. We enjoyed her cooking and stuffed ourselves until we could hardly move. We all felt like we couldn’t take another bite, but we found room to choose a treat from a silver-colored platter that Mom presented to us. It contained Mom’s homemade assortment of cookies, fudge, fruit cake, peanut brittle, and Swiss croffin,* which was a family favorite.
We all wandered to the living room and found our usual spots after the presents were arranged. Mom’s gifts were piled high on top of the big box. We begged her to open it to see what was inside. After she set the smaller packages aside, Mom stood up and ripped the paper off as fast as she could and tossed it aside. As she pulled at the tape that sealed the box, we waited patiently. She peaked inside, looked up at the chandelier with wide eyes, and loudly said, “A vacuum cleaner?” She repeated that phrase over and over again for days, months and even years. The rest of us couldn’t help but laugh. (Sorry, Mom.)
My father was a soft-hearted, yet practical man. He also liked to tease people, so I’m not sure if the present was supposed to be a joke. Joke or not, Dad seemed to learn something from that experience. The rest of the gifts he gave Mom came in much smaller packages! It’s the thought that counts, right? 🙂
Do you have a memory of when someone you know received a shocking gift that continues to bring a smile to your face?
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, filled with presents in smaller packages!
* Swiss croffin, or Swiss kuchli, is the size of a small donut and is a pear-filled pastry. It contains anise seed, dried pears, walnuts, and sugar. The mixture is simmered for two hours. After cooking, the water is drained. The mixture is mashed and placed in a pie crust that is separated with a cookie cutter. Each pastry is sealed and fried in a deep fryer until lightly brown. The last step is to cover it all with powdered sugar. I’ve never made this recipe, because of my fear of deep fryers! Plus, it’s a lot of work.