My odd, well-meaning Aunt

Picture this: it is Christmas in Alabama, sometime in the mid 90’s.

-As is par for the season the leaves are off the trees and the usual wet cold permeates the air, chilling to the bone if a wind decides to start up. Clouds like sheets of wavy steel coat the ceiling of the world, but that’s alright, it’s Christmas, and we are doing the obligatory rounds to the houses of our various relatives on the day of the birth of the Christ child, as we were one of those practical family that had our immediate family gift exchange the night before so that we would be available.

Relatives were ecstatic to see us as we were of the few that actually did the rounds, and much food and holiday cheer was enjoyed at the houses that we visited. Grandparents, Great Uncles and Aunts were seen, and all of them showed us only love and gratitude for us just participating, and in a way that only a deep South family can do. The food spreads at the gatherings we attended would have made Michael Moore weep as there was enough food to feed multiples of five of the people that attended, but such is the Southern Way. The adult men purposely wore belts a few sizes too long as they knew from experience that at some point they would be loosened, and the women folk had been researching for weeks the local family gossip to fuel themselves while the men gorged and subsequently passed out shortly after the meal. Each house came stocked with toys for the little ones, and the teens, although left to fend for themselves, usually managed to find some source of entertainment.

-It was a beautiful time.

One of the houses that we visited was that of my Aunt, who could not make it to one of the larger family gatherings for reasons of her own, but had insisted that we come by for a moment for a gift exchange. We made our way to one of the more rural areas of Northern Alabama and eventually made it to my Aunt’s, who was over the moon with excitement that we could make it. Gifts were exchanged as well as conversation, and after about a half hour we hit the road again in the direction of our house as this was our last stop before we called it a day. I should note that we had yet to open the gifts that she had given us.

After we made it to the house and unloaded the trunk of all of the gear that we had picked up, we started to actually sit down and review what we had been given.

Now I have to say that although we do have a really amazing family, there is a little detachment between my immediate family, who in essence were (and still remain) “city folk”, and the rest of our family who consider themselves “country folk”, and this translates directly to the type of gifts that are given. Whereas we thought that a VCR was a thoughtful gift, we received its equivalent in Mossy Oak shirts and flannel. Not that it is a bad thing, it is just that there are two different perspectives as to what a good, functional gift is. No worries as it truly is the thought that counts.

-Then we got to the gifts that my Aunt had given us. She was a wonderful woman, full of love and life, but she was more on the extreme end of the afore-mentioned perspective. -The gift she had given me? Yeah, it was a coffee mug tree that held coffee cups that were in a cow motif. She had known that I liked coffee, and had done something in that vein… but it really was not a gift that I wanted and it would never get used. I think the gift can be summarized with the one statement that my mother had concerning the coffee cup cow collection:

“Well… that’s nice.”

It’s kind of what I expected the reactions were when Michelle Obama gave this to visiting dignitaries this past week.

Wife of the “Leader of the Free World”, and you give them something that can be bought at your local farmer’s market for a fraction of what the assumed cost was to put this thing together.

Hey Michelle… uh, that’s nice.

You guys run out of ipods that had your husband’s speeches on them?

What, no more DVD gift sets?

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About Old Iron
I'm just a guy that works overseas alot and likes to play just as hard as I work. Been to a FEW countries, know a shitload of people all over, and generally have a good time wherever I go. -Oh, and I am currently in between girlfriends, and strangely enough and perfectly happy with that status. In the long run hookers are cheaper. Take my word on that.

2 Responses to My odd, well-meaning Aunt

  1. Gordon says:

    You know, with Republican administrations, there is always someone–the wife of a mid-to-high level functionary–who steps in as chief of protocol. And that woman will know exactly what kind of gifts are appropriate, and will also know that POTUS does not bow to kings or emperors. She’s the kind of gal who has a laser-powered glare when confronted by inappropriate levity.

    Universities also had a gal like that; often the wife of the dean or president. Part of her role was to civilize new, young faculty members, and teach them how to behave. A few smaller, usually religious schools still have these women, but they’re long gone from all of the public universities. They were chased off by the same kind of folks who run protocol in the White House today.

  2. Old Iron says:

    This woman would give “I heart Khmer Rouge” shirts to visiting Cambodian dignitaries.

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