Last Thursday, my brother Kelvin’s “The Other Side” column was about the wonderful time we had on Christmas. This is not a rebuttal, but an addendum.
I think the history of how gag gifts became a Wade Christmas tradition needs to be told. A friend from church, the late Darlene Warren, gave my family towels for Christmas in the late 1970s and each one had something personalized attached to it. To my wiseacre dad, she attached leaves and rocks. The idea was planted.
In the 1980s, my brothers and I started gifting and regifting to each other the same Barbie knockoff doll named Twistee. That evolved into a twisted contest between my late brother Ken and I to see who could give each other the worst gift. Presentation counted and one year I used a paper bag for wrapping paper, then rolled his gift in dirt before placing it under the Christmas tree.
He trumped me by giving me an Iron Maiden patch, which he didn’t wrap at all, but kept in the bag with the price tag on it and stapled to the wall next to the tree.
In Kelvin’s column, he mentioned some of the recent Wade gag gifts, such as the hamburger with a bite out of it and my present that turned out to have dried cat poop in a sealed, transparent box. Not only did I protest the latter for going over the line, I later shot off a formal complaint letter to the National Gag Gift Oversight Commission.
This year, Kelvin got me the “classic” Village People movie “Can’t Stop the Music” on VHS tape to remind me that I dragged him to see the cinematic monstrosity when it came out in 1980. He also gave me the DVD of the 1975 TV movie “Sweet Hostage,” starring Linda Blair and Martin Sheen, that works as both a real and a gag gift because while it is extra cheesy, I liked it when I was 11 and I like it now.
My wife Beth gave me a telescoping fork, which extends to about 2 feet. I may use it at restaurants to sneak food off the plates of unsuspecting neighboring diners.
I got my oldest brother Orvis a container of “Maybe You Touched Your Genitals” hand sanitizer, which broke the room up, and I gave Kelvin an emergency inflatable brain. He scoffed at it, but you never know when you may need one.
The “I Love Ewe” inflatable party sheep Kelvin gave Orvis was in incredibly poor taste, but truthfully, it is a huge step up from animal excrement.
Now, we actually do give each other “real” gifts sometimes as well. I gave my brother Orvis a motion-activated Star Trek door chime that makes the whooshing sound that the pneumatic doors aboard the Enterprise did. It was hard to not keep it for myself.
Beth and Kaci received adorable handmade beanies of a wolf and cat respectively. Through Lucy Andris, who attends my Fairfield-Suisun Scrabble Club, I was hooked up with Jill Stivers from Southern California of Crafts for Causes (http://craftsforcauses.blogspot.com). She makes custom crafts and donates the money for them to charities.
Kelvin had me read aloud a piece of paper attached to my next gift and when I read the first paragraph, I had to pause and gather my emotions. It was the obituary for Willa Ruth Cunningham, who died Dec. 21, 2010, at age 89.
She was my kindergarten teacher at Breezy Point Kindergarten in Norfolk, Va., in 1969-70. I loved her as she was my second teacher – after my mom. The gift included a framed picture of Mrs. Cunningham. The obituary had a website and I later posted condolences to her family.
Kelvin’s gift was one of those wonderful surprises that highlights his thoughtfulness. The mood of unrestrained hilarity changed instantly to one of heartfelt love of family and the memories we cherish while simultaneously creating new ones.
That feeling lasted until Kelvin opened his next gift, which was from me: Glow-in-the-dark toilet paper.
Happy New Year!
Fairfield writer Tony Wade’s birthday is January 2nd and he will accepting only real gifts. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.