The Christmas Gift You Want to Hug and Squeeze and Call it George

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George is somewhere in this pile of brightly wrapped packages 

A theme emerged this Christmas. It didn’t start out that way. DSCN4864It wasn’t intentional. It just happened. It became a Christmas of soft and warm and fuzzy gifts. Who knew such innocuous stuff could harbor envious thoughts. So the following story is somewhat true, somewhat a pack of lies — I mean EXAGGERATION. Some of the pictures I took turned out made to order for funny story twists. At least it was funny to us.

So here it is.

Only our family can fight over something that’s warm and fuzzy, like teddy bears. Like robes. It almost caused a good-natured war.

I bought robes as gifts this Christmas. One for a male member of the family who had been reduced to wearing his wife’s. And no, it wasn’t Mike. He has a cozy warm camouflage robe. Camouflage doesn’t evoke warm and fuzzy feelings, but the warmth has saved him from frost bite, lo, these many months, in a household with a wife whose inner thermostat is always on broiling.

But this year’s Christmas gift robes are not just any old schlopping around robes, thank you very much. These are quilted, micro-fiber, plush, warm, cozy, never-take-them-off types of robes. The kind that makes you want to bury your face in the material, and hug it and squeeze it and call it “George”. (Just so you know, younger readers, this is a cartoon reference since you missed out on all the good old stuff).

Sister Katie was the first to open hers. She’s the sister who goes ga-ga over soft and smooth. I mean she, like, goes into a trance. Must have had a nice baby blanket in her crib once upon a time and she was marked.

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— “No, Aunt Katie Bug. Back off. You’re not getting my soft, smooth pajamas that I’m going to hug and squeeze and call George. No way.” —

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“No, Katie. Please. Remember me? I’m your friend Natalie. I’m a Christmas guest. Please don’t take my coat. It was a gift from Michelle. I just opened up the box a few minutes ago and I love it so much I haven’t taken it off since. Please go away. I’d hate to report you to Linda.

 But that wasn’t the surprise. That came when my sister Gaynell, the one just younger than me, pulled hers out of the bag. Gaynell is the black sheep of the family. She’s quiet and shy, doesn’t hog the limelight and doesn’t make scenes.

So her excess of emotion over the cushy robe was so out of character. You could just see her lips about to form the word “George” as she hugged it and squeezed it and dug her fingers deep within its folds. Who knew such a tactile response would come from dear retiring Gaynell.

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That’s when the envy came in on little cat feet. My daughter Michelle sat through all the robe gifting, and kept her envious emotions on tap and her mouth shut.

Okay. Some background here. One of my first purchases this season was a robe for Michelle. I had miraculously gone shopping by myself once. So during all subsequent shopping trips I had to hurry Michelle past any robe displays because she couldn’t keep her cotton pickin’ paws off them. I just knew she was going to break down and buy one. Fortunately, she didn’t.

Therefore — as she later confided to me — she was chomping at the bit when Christmas Day came and everybody and her neighbor got a robe, including one man. When Katie pulled her robe out, Michelle thought, “That better not be my robe, given to Katie by mistake.”

And when Gaynell went through her throes of practically falling into her robe, it’s a wonder Michelle kept her seat and didn’t go after it. Only the fact that Michelle just has the use of one arm at the moment, I believe, kept her from committing mayhem upon her unsuspecting aunt. I’m so glad I was completely unaware of this pending disaster.

When Michelle finally pulled her robe out of a gift bag, she hooted and hollered in relief and sent up a quick, quiet prayer for forgiveness of robe envy.

And that wasn’t the only skirmish avoided. But I wasn’t aware of this one till today. How glad I am that I spent Christmas in a joyous bubble of ignorance.

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Background. My daughter-in-law Tammy loves the wild. Not going into the wild, but bringing it into her home in the form of non-aggressive, beautifully colored pictures of tigers. She likes the jungle motif, but mostly the cats — leopard or tiger patterns.

Background. I bought my granddaughter Montana a soft, smooth, fleece-lined, leopard-patterned throw while her mother was in the hospital recently. A comfort gift, if you will. Michelle promptly took it over when she got home and I’ve had to listen to Montana’s plaintive wails ever since.

So . . . I bought Michelle a soft, micro-fibered, smoooooth,  leopard-patterned robe. This one was set off from all the other robes, which are solid-colored, but a soft and beautiful hue. I can’t name the color, even though I’m female. It’s kind of a soft, mint blue. Easy on the eyes. Lovely.

Oh, I forgot. Montana’s robe is pink with polka dots. I forgot about that one. But the possessiveness was catching. As you can see.

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Do you see the conflict? Do you see the war brewing? I was so fixated on Michelle’s love of Montana’s leopard throw, that I failed to remember Tammy’s obsession with the jungle. Especially the great and beautiful cats. Soooo. Over coffee and hot tea this morning — with all three of us gals wearing our new robes — Michelle, Tammy, and me — Tammy wonders, all innocently, why she didn’t get one like Michelle’s. Michelle grabs her robe tightly about her and, in no uncertain terms says, “You’re not gettin’ MINE.”

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Tammy thinks “This leopard-pattern robe should have been mine. Mine. Mine. Mine.”

And during Christmas day itself, Tammy got a smooth, soft, plush, queen-sized blanket. When she took it out of its wrapping, she guarded it with her life. You can see it in the picture. The possessiveness. The look of being at bay. Like . . . nobody’s borrowing or even overtly coveting this heavenly cloud that I will wrap myself in and hug it and squeeze it and call it George.

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What a warm and fuzzy Christmas. On planet Smith. Sheesh!! Happy New Year’s week everybody.

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