Tag Archives: Gifts

Material Things (Two Word Challenge) : Six Gifts for My Sister

 

Six Gifts for My Sister

 

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Six Gifts for my Sister

 Older sisters are our teachers, our critics, our cruelest enemies and our best friends. When we were younger, my sister was no exception. With age, however, some of these roles have fallen away. The others I often take for granted even though I know they are still there.

This year I will be, as I have been for most years in my life, far away from my four-year-older sister, Patti, for Christmas. Betty, my 11-year-older sister, unfortunately started to leave us four years ago and now lives in a world we are not a part of. Both Patti and I fear the same thing happening to us and we’ve made some Thelma and Louise pacts to that end. Hopefully, we’ll never have to use them and will fade peacefully away in our dreams when we are well over 100.

If this sounds excessive, you are right. I am a glutton for life and probably part of the reason is the capacity for play taught to me by my sister, who was always my most imaginative playmate. Even when I’m sad, I love living and want for life to go on for as long as possible, so long as I remain relatively pain-free and retain my mind, my sense of humor and my girlish good figure. One of these things does not belong. You can probably guess which one.

Since I live in Mexico and my sister will be in her home near Phoenix this year, we have sent gifts early. Mine sits on top of the armoire in my beach rental in its blue wrapping bag with curly ribbon. I have added a pelican feather and gaudy ribbon streamers. Since I’ve chosen to spend this Christmas far from friends and other relatives, it is my only gift and I am hoarding its mystery until the last possible minute. Perhaps I’ll open it at 11:55 P.M. on December 25! I’m sure my sister has not opened hers, either.

A usual tradition in our family was to do Christmas stockings to which we all contributed. (Well, except for my dad, who instead donated the cash we all used to purchase our stocking stuffers.) With that in mind and feeling sentimental, I’d like to assemble an imaginary Christmas stocking for my sister to open right now—as soon as she sees this. It’s a not such a large stocking, but as in all things imaginary, anything is possible; so I’m sure all the gifts will fit.

I need to start at the top, with the lightest most crushable items, and so the first gift she will find sticking out of the top of the stocking will be something flat, rolled into a cylinder before wrapping. When she rips off the paper in her usual unceremonial fashion, she will know exactly why I have given it to her.

It is a folder of Debra Paget paper dolls with snub-nosed scissors taped to the front to encourage her to actually cut them out. I have visions of them decorating her tree for the remainder of its life this year, or even better, my sister on her stomach on the living room rug, cutting them out while she listens to “Our Miss Brooks” or “The Shadow” on the radio, then assembles the material for a paper doll house: Kleenex box beds and sofas, tuna can tables covered in tissue tablecloths. Since she taught me these imaginary games, she’ll figure out the rest. Then I want her to imagine me there playing with her. She can be Debra Paget. I’ll be anyone she wants me to be, as was the norm way back then when we constructed our first paper worlds.

The next box she pulls from the stocking will be long, narrow and flattish. It will weigh practically nothing. There will be instructions on the front to open it more carefully than usual, for it is fragile. When she folds back the paper, she’ll find a box of the old aluminum tinsel—the extra long and extra skinny type that only she knew how to put on perfectly. It was an art, this distribution of tinsel on the tree. One had to be sure to spread it out evenly in bunches of only three or four strands. For maximum beauty, it had to be hung on the ends of branches so it hung just to the top of the next branch without lapping over. In our house, it was never thrown! I am absolutely sure that now, as then, Patti and I are the only ones with patience enough to do the job right, so she will have to do it for both of us.

I’m sure that what the next gift is will be obvious. It is a Christmas tradition started by my mother, who would tuck a small box of Russell Stover Chocolates in each stocking. At times, she would succumb to temptation and all of the boxes would be empty as she generously absorbed all of their calories herself. I am making one small change in tradition and tucking in a box of See’s Chocolates in lieu of Mother’s poor taste in chocolate. Helen Grace would be even better, if I knew where to buy them.

The next box is small and may have slid a bit farther down in the stocking when the others were removed, so I’ve attached a streamer that extends well out of the top of the sock. Pull the streamer and the little box will pop out. Inside is a key. Looks like the key to a car. Actually, it is the key to a little tan Scout whose top can be taken off to make it a convertible. Here are the instructions I’ve written for Patti and wrapped around the key:

There is room for the driver (that’s you) and one more friend in front. (That’s me.) I am sitting there in honor of friends no longer able to: Patty Peck, Diane Looby, Mary Jo Kuckleberg. I think Karen Bossart is so slim that she could also squeeze in front with us. In the back, along the side benches and on the floor, if you really pack them in, there is room for at least eight others and I have written them all to be expecting your call. Billy Francis, Clarence Rea, Mick Penticoff and Bobby Brost are all must-rides. Since the male friends of your youth have outlasted most of your female friends, Billy and C.J. and Mick can bring their wives to sit in for Patty, Diane and Mary Jo. If my buddy Rita North were going to be in Arizona for Christmas (she isn’t) she could tag along as both of us always longed to do—and sometimes we were actually asked! Jim, I don’t think a Scout is your style, but be a sport and ride along in the back with the guys! You’ll discover formerly undiscovered levels of fun bumping along in this replica of Patti’s and my first wheels. And there is always room for one more in the back of a Scout!

The next gift is merely an envelope. Inside are two tickets to Africa. The accompanying note reads:

—To complete our journey that was once curtailed by a revolution and shooting that sent you off to bravely face the rest of the trip alone. It’s about time we tried it again, hopefully with happier endings. Since then, you’ve been back so many times that you can probably pick the agenda better than I could, so it’s an open ticket. You fill in the blanks.

So, we’ve finally come to the bottom of the stocking, but anyone who has plunged into the depths of a Christmas stocking knows there is always something left in the stocking’s toe. In this case it is a small but substantial box wrapped in rich gold paper with a shiny silver cord. Inside is a slide with a large diamond set in gold. Although I know that gold and diamonds are no longer my sister’s “style,” this one is a wonderful modern design with an emerald-cut stone set in a flat gold setting. It is this gift that I’ve chosen to show her worth to me and for that, nothing but the best will do!

Merry Christmas to all. Especially to that sister who has been there for me every single time and who need never worry again about being mean to me in our youth. That, too, is what older sisters are meant to do. It gets us ready for the world, which will not always be paper dolls and U’ing main in a Scout chock full of friends.


This is a reblog of a piece I wrote three years ago. The two word prompt this time was “Material Things:” If you want to play along or see other blog entries for this prompt, go here: https://teresacreationsblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/11/daily-two-word-prompt-121/

Unique Gifts

Unique Gifts

Will anyone give me valentines? No, my friend, they won’t,
for the ones who might are absent and the ones around me don’t.
I haven’t romance in my life near enough to kiss
unless there’s someone close at hand I’ve been inclined to miss.
I  know the famous day is here. The streets are lined with flowers,
balloons and underpants with hearts and teddy bears in towers.
Cups with hearts and arrows. Chocolates tied in bows.
Who all these gifts will go to, heaven only knows.
I’m sure that none are meant for me, for I don’t have a honey
who knows how to buy anything with credit card or money.
Yes, he sleeps with me at night and gives me lots of kisses,
but holidays and gifts and flowers are all things that he disses.
So I’ll  be satisfied with gifts not  found in any mall—
like how he  pees outside now, and comes running when I call.

 dscn1803-1

For more poems about hearts, go to dversepoets  HERE.

The prompt today was expectation.

Boy Toys

erector-set-a - Version 3

Boy Toys

If I were a kid again,
I’d ask for an electric train,
erector sets and building blocks,
a cane to take along on walks
for fending off mean dogs and snakes,
a little oven that really bakes,
decoder rings and magic sets,
ant farms and bug-collecting nets,
a chart for looking up the stars,
paraffin and jelly jars.

The main thing that I’d want, you see,
are more forms of activity:
canvas, paints and wood or clay
to help me pass the time of day.
Instead, adventure came in books–
days spent in armchairs or in nooks
and crannies of our lawn or house,
curled up like a little mouse,
reading of the far-off places,
imaginary deeds and faces.

But I would rather have been doing–
drawing, cutting, building, gluing.
Instead I spent my days in dreams,
filling up my mind with schemes
of what I’d do when I was older–
taller, smarter, braver, bolder.
When we are young, if no one shows us,
takes the trouble to expose us
to the world of creativity,
we may never really see

all the ways that there might be
to set imagination free.
It was plain that an erector set
was not a toy I’d ever get.
With “Hello boys,” written on the front,
the message was both clear and blunt.
Girls did not ask for toys like this.
I had no inkling of what I’d miss.
Creativity was slow to dawn.
For years, I simply played the pawn,

doing what others asked of me,
waiting until I was free
to find a path I’d never seen
caught up in the small town machine.
When I was freed into the world,
a whole new universe unfurled
undivided into  girls or boys.
I finally learned to choose the toys
I really wanted: saws and pliers,
sheets of silver, silver wires,

drill presses and dapping blocks,
glues and solder guns and caulks.
I finally have the toys I want–
not toys to look at or to flaunt,
but toys to make things with and do
–things that help me build anew
each day into whate’er I wish:
a paper lamp, a silver fish.
My story boxes tell the story
of all those years in purgatory

before I learned what else there was
to make my life take off and buzz
with focus and activity–
to fill my days and set me free.
Somehow I just got off the track
before I made my own way back,
but If I did it over again,
I’d ask for that electric train.
Around the track, I’d watch it curl–
a perfect pastime for a girl!!!

The Prompt: Gimmee–Was there a special gift or toy you wanted as a child but never received? If so, what was it?If  https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/gimme/
TWIST   Twist

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/what-a-twist/

I’d Give the World

The Prompt: Secret Santa—You get to choose one gift — no price restrictions — for any person you want. The caveat? You have to give it anonymously. What gift would you give, and to whom?

I’d Give the World

I would give my niece, Stephanie, a trip around the world with the stipulation that it must last at least one year and that she needs to paint at least one painting in each place she visits and keep a journal of writing and sketches. If she wishes, she could take one friend with her.

The reason why I would give her this gift is because I believe the thing that had the biggest effect on my life was a 4 month long trip I took around the world in my junior year of college and the three years I spent traveling after I graduated from college. After a lifetime of saying this,  I’m going to try to analyze why this is so.

l.  It showed me life from a world perspective rather than merely a U.S. news view.  This is perhaps more possible in this age of the internet, but I had never heard the news from any perspective other than one slanted from the U.S. view.

2.  It showed me that everything is everywhere.  I met wise people who had never been to school and wealthy entrepreneurs who were the stupidest people I’d ever met. I experienced unbelievable greed and  I met the poorest of people who were the most generous in giving what they had. There were people the world over whose desire it was to learn what I knew and to teach what they knew.  I started to recognize people I knew in people I’d never met before. I experienced so many cultures—all of which seemed to be working when left alone without having other cultures thrust upon them.

3. I discovered that everyone in the world has somewhere they fit in.  Once you find this place, you can fit in anywhere.

4. I learned how to do without almost everything.  In doing so, I think I discovered what is most important.  (This may be hard for close friends, who know what a collector I am, to believe.)

5.  I learned that I am braver and smarter and craftier and more resilient than I ever would have believed.

6.  I learned that I am so fortunate to have been born where and when and to whom I was born.

7.  I learned that I can do anything I want to and be anyone I want to—and I chose me.

8. I discovered I can be totally on my own and get by fine.

9. I discovered talents I never knew I had.

10. I realized the broad range of choices I had in life.

I would wish all of these realizations on every young person.  Perhaps they all have a wider world open to them in this cyber world, but nothing beats real experience and I believe this is the best gift I can think of to give to a very special person in this world.

Six Gifts for My Sister

The Prompt: The Language of Things—You have to write a message to someone dear to you, telling that person how much he/she means to you. However — instead of words, you can only use 5-10 objects to convey your emotions.  Which objects do you choose, and what do they mean?

First of all, I have to say that this is my all-time-favorite prompt, so kudos to its creator. It is original, thought-provoking and fun.

DSC00595

Six Gifts for my Sister

 Older sisters are our teachers, our critics, our cruelest enemies and our best friends. When we were younger, my sister was no exception. With age, however, some of these roles have fallen away. The others I often take for granted even though I know they are still there.

This year I will be, as I have been for most years in my life, far away from my four-year-older sister, Patti, for Christmas. Betty, my 11-year-older sister, unfortunately started to leave us four years ago and now lives in a world we are not a part of. Both Patti and I fear the same thing happening to us and we’ve made some Thelma and Louise pacts to that end. Hopefully, we’ll never have to use them and will fade peacefully away in our dreams when we are well over 100.

If this sounds excessive, you are right. I am a glutton for life and probably part of the reason is the capacity for play taught to me by my sister, who was always my most imaginative playmate. Even when I’m sad, I love living and want for life to go on for as long as possible, so long as I remain relatively pain-free and retain my mind, my sense of humor and my girlish good figure. One of these things does not belong. You can probably guess which one.

Since I live in Mexico and my sister will be in her home near Phoenix this year, we have sent gifts early. Mine sits on top of the armoire in my beach rental in its blue wrapping bag with curly ribbon. I have added a pelican feather and gaudy ribbon streamers. Since I’ve chosen to spend this Christmas far from friends and other relatives, it is my only gift and I am hoarding its mystery until the last possible minute. Perhaps I’ll open it at 11:55 P.M. on December 25! I’m sure my sister has not opened hers, either.

A usual tradition in our family was to do Christmas stockings to which we all contributed. (Well, except for my dad, who instead donated the cash we all used to purchase our stocking stuffers.) With that in mind and feeling sentimental, I’d like to assemble an imaginary Christmas stocking for my sister to open right now—as soon as she sees this. It’s a not such a large stocking, but as in all things imaginary, anything is possible; so I’m sure all the gifts will fit.

I need to start at the top, with the lightest most crushable items, and so the first gift she will find sticking out of the top of the stocking will be something flat, rolled into a cylinder before wrapping. When she rips off the paper in her usual unceremonial fashion, she will know exactly why I have given it to her.

It is a folder of Debra Paget paper dolls with snub-nosed scissors taped to the front to encourage her to actually cut them out. I have visions of them decorating her tree for the remainder of its life this year, or even better, my sister on her stomach on the living room rug, cutting them out while she listens to “Our Miss Brooks” or “The Shadow” on the radio, then assembles the material for a paper doll house: Kleenex box beds and sofas, tuna can tables covered in tissue tablecloths. Since she taught me these imaginary games, she’ll figure out the rest. Then I want her to imagine me there playing with her. She can be Debra Paget. I’ll be anyone she wants me to be, as was the norm way back then when we constructed our first paper worlds.

The next box she pulls from the stocking will be long, narrow and flattish. It will weigh practically nothing. There will be instructions on the front to open it more carefully than usual, for it is fragile. When she folds back the paper, she’ll find a box of the old aluminum tinsel—the extra long and extra skinny type that only she knew how to put on perfectly. It was an art, this distribution of tinsel on the tree. One had to be sure to spread it out evenly in bunches of only three or four strands. For maximum beauty, it had to be hung on the ends of branches so it hung just to the top of the next branch without lapping over. In our house, it was never thrown! I am absolutely sure that now, as then, Patti and I are the only ones with patience enough to do the job right, so she will have to do it for both of us.

I’m sure that what the next gift is will be obvious. It is a Christmas tradition started by my mother, who would tuck a small box of Russell Stover Chocolates in each stocking. At times, she would succumb to temptation and all of the boxes would be empty as she generously absorbed all of their calories herself. I am making one small change in tradition and tucking in a box of See’s Chocolates in lieu of Mother’s poor taste in chocolate. Helen Grace would be even better, if I knew where to buy them.

The next box is small and may have slid a bit further down in the stocking when the others were removed, so I’ve attached a streamer that extends well out of the top of the sock. Pull the streamer and the little box will pop out. Inside is a key. Looks like the key to a car. Actually, it is the key to a little tan Scout whose top can be taken off to make it a convertible. Here are the instructions I’ve written for Patti and wrapped around the key:

There is room for the driver (that’s you) and one more friend in front. (That’s me.) I am sitting there in honor of friends no longer able to: Patty Peck, Diane Looby, Mary Jo Kuckleberg. I think Karen Bossart is so slim that she could also squeeze in front with us. In the back, along the side benches and on the floor, if you really pack them in, there is room for at least eight others and I have written them all to be expecting your call. Billy Francis, Clarence Rea, Mick Penticoff and Bobby Brost are all must-rides. Since the male friends of your youth have outlasted most of your female friends, Billy and C.J. and Mick can bring their wives to sit in for Patty, Diane and Mary Jo. If my buddy Rita North were going to be in Arizona for Christmas (she isn’t) she could tag along as both of us always longed to do—and sometimes we were actually asked! Jim, I don’t think a Scout is your style, but be a sport and ride along in the back with the guys! You’ll discover formerly undiscovered levels of fun bumping along in this replica of Patti’s and my first wheels. And there is always room for one more in the back of a Scout!

The next gift is merely an envelope. Inside are two tickets to Africa. The accompanying note reads:

—To complete our journey that was once curtailed by a revolution and shooting that sent you off to bravely face the rest of the trip alone. It’s about time we tried it again, hopefully with happier endings. Since then, you’ve been back so many times that you can probably pick the agenda better than I could, so it’s an open ticket. You fill in the blanks.

So, we’ve finally come to the bottom of the stocking, but anyone who has plunged into the depths of a Christmas stocking knows there is always something left in the stocking’s toe. In this case it is a small but substantial box wrapped in rich gold paper with a shiny silver cord. Inside is a slide with a large diamond set in gold. Although I know that gold and diamonds are no longer my sister’s “style,” this one is a wonderful modern design with an emerald-cut stone set in a flat gold setting. It is this gift that I’ve chosen to show her worth to me and for that, nothing but the best will do!

Merry Christmas to all. Especially to that sister who has been there for me every single time and who need never worry again about being mean to me in our youth. That, too, is what older sisters are meant to do. It gets us ready for the world, which will not always be paper dolls and U’ing main in a Scout chock full of friends.

 

 

Hello, Madam

Hello, Madam

My story begins years ago, when the gringo woman first bought the palapa house that fronts the beach in our village. It is many years now since that day I first passed her walking on the beach—heading south as I headed north. I saw her falter when I drew close enough for her to see the machete in my hand. It was held down by my side, as this is how I always carry it, so I think perhaps she didn’t see it until I was quite close. I saw her alter the cadence of her walk, start to turn around, then instead, veer out into the water so as to cut as wide a swath as possible in our passing. I bid her good morning, trying to be as non-threatening as a six-foot-tall Mexican man carrying a machete could be on this deserted section of the beach. No other people walk in the dawn darkness before the sun comes over the palm trees and palapa rooflines.

She bid me good morning as well, saying “Buen dia,” in our fashion, instead of the usual “Buenos dias,” that would brand her as a gringa. Not that anyone would have mistaken her for anything else. She wore the sackish coverup that many norte americanos adopt as their bodies get older and wider. Her skin was white, her hair straw-colored. She carried a big bag and stooped often to retrieve shells, stones, driftwood and other objects from the beach that she made into art. I have seen these objects spread out on the palapa-covered front porch of her house on the beach, very close to the water. Sometimes when she was not outside, I had peeked at her new constructions and after our first month of passing daily on the beach, I held out to her a small treasure I had found: a seahorse, bright orange, no longer than half my thumb. It was dead but still pliable. When I held it out to her, she was at first taken aback. Then I saw the pleasure on her face, as though I’d handed her a rose. The next day, I handed her a small rock imprinted with the fossil of a shell. It was gratifying to give these small ordinary things to someone who found them to have value.

The third day, I gifted her with three seahorses I’d found lying side-by-side on the beach, as though ready for a communal funeral. After I gave them to her, spread out to dry on a small section of a palm seed sheath that I had hacked out with my machete, it was she who initiated a conversation by asking why I carried the machete; and this is what I said back to her:

“Hello Madam. Someone has already told me that you are looking for stories, and knowing that I have many that I remember well and also have been said to share interestingly enough, he has recommended that I seek you out. In spite of this, do not think that our meeting on this beach was anything but coincidental. I have walked here every morning at this time for many years. It is fate that engineered our introduction, not I.

I am Fernando, but everyone here calls me “The Machete.” There is a story to this, of course, as there is a story to everything in Mexico. Sometimes I think our country is composed more of stories than of flesh or blood or clay or concrete. Stories and dreams and reality. Almost always, it is hard to know the difference.

Many years ago. Well, not really so many years—maybe twelve or fifteen—it was not as it is now. Few gringos lived in our community. Instead, there were dogs. Many wild dogs who roamed the beach. Sometimes some of them were rabid and there were at times problems when people carried food onto the sand. A few times, they even invaded the restaurants that opened onto the beach, rushing past tables, grabbing arrechera from plates and sometimes catching a hand or leg in the process. This brought a good deal of fear because of the fear of rabies, and everyone was talking to those who ran our pueblo, asking them what they were going to do about it. Finally, some of the men of the pueblo took guns and machetes and went in search of these dogs, disposing of many of them. For a while, peace reigned on the beach, but every few years, another wild pack would form and people would again be afraid to go onto the wilder parts of the beach—those parts where you and I like to walk.

Since I live a few miles from the place of my labor, it has been my practice for all these years to walk to work on the beach and as you might have guessed, this machete was my weapon against the wild dogs. Through the efforts of the many gringos who now live in our town, and the free spay and neuter clinics they provide twice a year, the problem of the wild dogs has disappeared; but I still carry my machete. It is as though my body has altered itself to accept this extra weight on my right side, so that without the machete, I cannot walk right. I cannot stride. I am not as sure-footed. This daily encumbrance has become a part of me, so always I carry it by my side. The story is simple. This is all there is to it.”

We passed on then, each in our particular direction; but I believe we parted as, if not friends, at least as congenial acquaintances. This was my first conversation with this woman who would one day have such an impact upon my life. It seems an inconsequential thing—this exchange of four seahorses and an imprinted stone—but these simple objects of seemingly no value were to be the golden key to my future—a story I will perhaps tell you one day if kind fate should set us in each others’ path.

The Prompt: Golden Key—You’ve been given a key that can open one building, room, locker, or box to which you don’t normally have access. How do you use it, and why?

This is actually Chapter Four of my novel.  I used today’s prompt as its starting point…Actually, its ending point.  Yes, I’m doing the novel but still can’t figure out how to post it on NaNoWriMo.  If anyone can give me some pointers about this, I would appreciate it!  Duh.

Wooden Heart

Wooden Heart

He handed it to me without ceremony—a small leather bag, awl-punched and stitched together by hand. Its flap was held together by a clasp made from a two fishing line sinkers and a piece of woven wax linen. I unwound the wax linen and found inside a tiny wooden heart with his initials on one side, mine on the other. A small hole in the heart had a braided cord of wax linen strung through that was attached to the bag so that the heart could not be lost. He had woven more waxed linen into a neck cord. I was 39 years old when he gave me that incredible thing I never thought I would receive: his heart—as much of it as he could give. Continue reading