Tag Archives: gift

1856. The fart cushion

Hilton was a little bit surprised when he opened his birthday present from Jude. Jude had been a life-long friend but lived far away. They still remembered each other’s birthdays and would send gifts through the mail. This year Jude had sent Hilton one of those trick fart cushions that you put on a chair and it sounds like someone farts loudly when they sit on it.

A fart cushion – or a whoopee cushion, whatever they’re called these days – was funny the first time; like back in 1842AD when Hilton saw (or rather heard) his first one. These days they were about as funny as a tetraplegic in a three-legged race. Why Jude had sent him one for his birthday was anyone’s guess.

Hilton wrote to Jude thanking him for his gift. Ha ha ha! said Hilton. It was great fun thank you. He fooled his three year old grandson who thought it was a scream. And so, Jude, it brought much joy on my birthday!

Hilton never worked out why Jude had sent him such a stale trick that was both useless and unfunny, and Jude never said. Which possibly explains why none of us, dear Reader, have the slightest clue either.

1836. Reap what you sow

Carol disliked Christmas immensely. It wasn’t because of people teasing her about her name, it was because everyone seemed to get Christmas presents and she didn’t get anything. All the other kids at school got presents, like Judith who got a doll when she already had one, and Marlene got a kitten.

It wasn’t because they were Jewish or anything either. Nor were they Christians. Her parents didn’t give her anything for Christmas but they seemed to go from one office Christmas party to another, and they even had a party at home with all sorts of decorations and lights and a tree.

On Christmas morning, no one pretended to come down the chimney, even though Carol left a peanut brownie that she had pinched from the cookie jar in the kitchen. But it was still there in the morning, and her parents slept in until eleven o’clock. To fill in the time waiting for them to get out of bed, Carol watched television on her own. And when they got up they never even said “Merry Christmas”.

“That’s because your parents are very busy,” said Marlene’s mother, Mrs. Brocklehurst. Carol spent quite a bit of time at the Brocklehurst’s house. Carol was dropped off there by her mother whenever she was having guests for an afternoon tea or dinner or something.

Anyway, that was years ago. These days Carol’s parents are in a retirement home. Carol’s mother is bed-ridden and her father is in a wheelchair. Carol never visits them. It’s not that she’s mean or anything; it’s just that it never occurred to her.

1814. So talented!

Charlotte didn’t have a single humdrum electron whizzing around in her brain. Her brain was on fire!

“You’re so creative, Charlotte,” people would say. “How do you come up with so many creative ideas?”

“I guess it’s a natural gift one is born with,” said Charlotte, and she would return to the painting she was painting, or the music for the Irish harp she was playing, or the sundial she was installing in the garden.

“Everything you touch turns to gold, Charlotte,” people would say. “You definitely have the Midas touch.”

“I don’t do anything to encourage it,” said Charlotte. “Things just come naturally to me,” and she went back to baking her Baked Alaska for she was have important friends over for dinner, or back to the rug she was weaving, or back to the dress for a niece’s doll she was sewing, or back to making homemade candles for a friend’s 30th birthday, or back to the lines she was learning for a dramatic production.

The extolling of Charlotte’s talents among her peers was like a mantra; it repeated itself over and over. “It’s sad you can’t find a job in this small town,” someone said. “Why don’t you move to the big city where your talents would be put to good use?”

So Charlotte moved to the big city in search of a job. What a relief! Quite frankly, Charlotte had driven everyone in the small town nuts.

1685. A wonderful Christmas gift

You’ve no idea the trouble Ivy went to, to get twelve lovely photographs of the wonderful family who lived next door. There were five in the Winchcombe Family: Mum, Dad, and their three beautiful daughters. The Winchcombes were about as ideal next door neighbours as one could hope for. And every Christmas they would bring Ivy a basket of the tastiest homemade shortbread possible. Glorious!

The trouble was that Ivy always had trouble knowing what best to give them in return. She’d done chocolates at least five times. And then she got this idea. Wonderful!

She would get a calendar printed with a different family photograph each month of the year. Ivy started early gathering the photographs together. It was a difficult task because she didn’t want to let her secret out. The photos were perfect. There was a beautiful one of the family gathering mushrooms in a green field. Another shot was of the family at a fair ground. The loveliest photograph of all was an official portrait taken of the family sitting on a rug in front of a lake. With swans. And trees. And flowers. And… oh lovely! Just lovely!

Ivy was so pleased with the calendar when it was finished that she couldn’t wait to give it to the family. But she must be patient. She mustn’t jump the gun. Only a week to go!

And then the three girls called in with a basket of Christmas shortbread and said that their parents were getting a divorce.

1303. Jolly heck

Verna was very artistic. She dabbled in painting with water colours, although she wasn’t terribly good at it. She modelled pots and characters (mainly little piglets) out of clay, although she wasn’t terribly good at it. She composed little songs about life and its hassles, although she wasn’t terribly good at it.

What she was good at was the envy of all who knew her. She could take ordinary everyday things like rocks and pinecones and driftwood and seashells, and glue them together to make the most wonderful three-dimensional works of art. Verna was a natural. Her creations sold for hundreds – and hundreds. Verna made lots of them for sale, although not enough to glut the market. Too many would cheapen their value. She also taught night classes on how to creatively glue together stuff you had found, and although her students were enthusiastic, no one matched the artistic prowess of Verna.

Verna would also occasionally give her creations away as gifts. In fact, one week she gave two away to be sold; one to the Sisters of Divine Mercy who ran a hospice, and one to the Heart Disease Research Foundation.

Sister Mary of the Southern Cross thought it was awful. What are we meant to do with bits of junk glued together? she asked. She chucked Verna’s creation onto a passing trash collector’s truck, and wrote a lovely letter to Verna. So sweet of you. So sweet.

The Heart Disease Research Foundation sold their gift and got just over one hundred and fifty thousand. It was a record. It could be said that Sister Mary of the Southern Cross was rendered speechless, but that was not exactly true. She kept saying Jolly heck. Something like that.

1207. An unexpected Christmas gift


Dolores got a most unexpected Christmas present the day after Christmas last year. It was an email that read:

What the IRS doesn’t want you to know. Emmanuel circuito financial rouge wishlist 9h iva circular mujer rsvp cumple musical sui viagem memory hrs heather autres sondage craigslist no…

Partially annoyed, Dolores clicked on it and responded with equal nonsense:

Thank you a lot for giving everyone a very breath-taking opportunity to discover important secrets from here. It is usually so great and as well, jam-packed with fun for me and my office colleagues to visit your site on the least three times per week to read through the latest stuff you have got. Not to mention, I’m actually fascinated concerning the powerful advice served by you.

She received the most wonderful reply:

Hi Dolores, Your response to our spam was perfect. We here at Anonymous Spammers dot Anonymous wondered if you would like to join our team? The pay is excellent.

Dolores now lives in a mansion and drives a Lamborghini.

673. Exchange student’s parents


Anita hosted a foreign exchange student. Salma was delightful. She was popular at school. She worked hard. She helped Anita around the house. She took part in everything with enthusiasm.

Salma’s parents were coming for a five-day visit. Mr and Mrs Abdulrashid were rich. They were more than rich; they were upper-class society rich. Anita literally scrubbed the entire house from front steps to back steps. Everything was to be perfect. Salma parents deserved it.

“Such a small house,” observed Mrs Abdulrashid. “And where are the servants?”

Anita took them here and there. They saw the highlights of the town. There wasn’t one sight to see that didn’t have a bigger and better version where Mr and Mrs Abdulrashid came from.

“And the food!” said Mr Abdulrashid. “The food is horrible. Salma, how have you been putting up with it?”

Anita took them to the local cricket grounds and rugby stadium – just for a look.

“How silly” said Mrs Abdulrashid. “Why would we want to look at that?”

Anita was beside herself. She longed for the five days of purgatory to have run their course. And they did!

Mr and Mrs Abdulrashid gave Anita a farewell gift. It was a large crystal bowl atop two sea horses. It weighed a tonne. It must’ve cost thousands.

“It’s utterly beautiful,” said Anita, genuinely moved. “Thank you.”

She held it up to catch the light. It caught on the corner of the sideboard and smashed to smithereens.

“Oh dear,” said Mrs Abdulrashid without the slightest gasp of a regret, “and to think you haven’t even started to pay for it yet.”