Thursday, October 04, 2007

Oh! Thank you!

Weekend Assignment #186: Talk about an unexpected gift that you've received. That gift could be anything big or small -- just something that you didn't see coming and/or from someone you would not have expected to get a gift from. Holiday/Birthday gifts can be included here, but gifts at unusual times are particularly good too.

Extra Credit: Have you ever given an unexpected gift?

I've been ransacking my memory off and on all evening about this, and come up with a number of incidents that fit the criteria. Oddly, however, none of them are around at this point to be photographed. Drat!

1. A picture of Jesus. When I was in about third grade, I attended "Religious Ed." at St. Ann's in Manlius. Actually I did so from second through eighth grades, but the incident I have in mind took place the year that the curriculum was some version of the Baltimore Catechism. I read through it hungrily at home, genuinely interested in the answers given to such questions as "Why did God make you?" I got way ahead of the class and retained what I'd read, but couldn't show it off because I kept leaving my book at home, and wasn't allowed to recite unless I had it. (Ultimately I lost the book, and Mom bought me a different edition at the Catholic bookstore downtown.)

Anyway, about the third week, I finally had a book with me and was called on to answer the questions. I think the nun took me through a whole chapter, and I remembered it all. She was so impressed that she gave me a gift, sort of a prize for doing so well. It was a printed painting of Jesus in a plastic oval gilt frame. I kept it for years and years, and remember having it as late as ninth grade or so. Maybe it will turn up in a box someday, but more likely it was either thrown out by the housekeeper who came twice a week, or disposed of in the infamous yard sale at the time of my parents' divorce, when my dad sold off a lot of my stuff in the mistaken impression that if I didn't take it with me to Florida for the summer, I must not want it any more.

2. A picture postcard. I've told this story before, so here's a link for the full version. Basically, a man who lived across the street from Pleasant Street Elementary School gave away a large number and variety of picture postcards to every child who was outside at recess at a particular time on a particular day. I don't remember what mine was, but I think it was a religious one, or lenticular, or both. The postcards were all confiscated by the school principal an hour later, on the excuse that it wasn't fair to the kids from the other "noon hour" recess, who didn't get a postcard.

3. Butter mints. My next door neighbor in Manlius, Sue, borrowed a couple of my high school yearbooks to look over, got drunk with a friend, and cut a few pictures out of one or two of them. She was apologetic afterward, and I don't recall being particularly angry, just bemused. Anyway, in the tradition of mothers and the suburban ethos, Sue's mother insisted that Sue give me a present by way of apology. It was a large round tin the size of a fruitcake, filled with pastel-colored dinner mints - or "butter mints," as they were labeled. I found the gift as odd and unexpected as the incident that occasioned it, but I ate the mints over a period of a week or two.

I'm sure that there have been more recent unexpected gifts - the writer dragon from Sara comes to mind, and the blue dragon from Eleanor, and the Tutti doll from Linda - but I've written about those before, too, and posted pictures of each. Nothing else is coming to mind at the moment, so let's move on to:

Extra credit: sherbet! The United Whovians of Tucson used to meet on Fridays at the homes of various members, a practice that dwindled later on so that we often ended up meeting in coffee houses and such. One night when I hosted, probably the Wholloween or Christmas party, Trevor brought an odd choice of desert: a couple bags (or one large bag) of those little containers of sherbet, similar to what I used to buy for 5 cents as part of the school lunch program circa 1965. There were about a dozen of them left over, so the next day I went driving around Tucson, and handed them out to the homeless. Most were grateful, but one of them said that he didn't eat sugar, and asked whether I had anything else!


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