A Walrus, Dead Fish, and Trees

It really is the thought that counts…

A person could tell when someone pawned off junk he or she didn’t want. Being re-gifted felt lousy, so I made it my goal to give cool presents.

I realized cool presents meant paying attention and not always choosing the obvious angle. When my daughter fixated on cats, I brought home a kitten. Kittens turned into evil ankle biters with attitude. This type of cat lived forever and required twice daily diabetes shots with an occasional shot of Jack for me when the vet bill came due.

When the kid’s fancy turned to walruses, I adopted via a fund to save the endangered creature. William Walrus’s photograph required occasional dusting. Photo William didn’t come with a litter box to fit his 1.5 ton frame.

Gifts could be given to commemorate events like summer days floating a river or lake in a canoe, unless there was less floating and more flailing in the water on the day I leaned over and dumped the canoe.

I knew why people drowned. They wore warm clothes against a chill, but wet would drag you to the bottom of a lake like a cinder block. Disrobing while clutching a dead snag then swimming for your life vest was stupid. It was more stupid than previous stupid things we did with the canoe, forgetting the paddles, shooting rapids, not lashing gear, wearing new shoes you hadn’t technically paid for yet….

On a different day, when we weren’t muddy, smelling like a lake, fighting off snapping turtles, and were actually sitting in the canoe, the hubby caught a big bass. After photographs, he released the fish.

With the right connections, I bought the hubby a fish that looked like his fish to hang on the wall. It reminded him of landing a monster on light tackle, the knowledge that his bass was procreating, and of a pleasant summer day on the river instead of the tipped canoe incident in which I almost killed us.

Gifts to my sister addressed her obsession, sharks. She took a week’s vacation to watch every show offered during Shark Week. My sister believed her cause of death would be by shark attack. During her beach vacation, in shark habitat, she rarely dipped more than a toe in the ocean. Unless she fell into a shark tank at an aquarium, I believed death had a better chance of finding her choking on a bag of M&Ms.

The only logical gift for my mentally unstable sibling was a Megalodon tooth. A Megalodon was a prehistoric shark that ate whales.

When my sister opened this gift she said, “Cool, is it authentic?”

I hoped so. I paid a day’s wages for an old fish body part someone found in the dirt. If she wanted papers to confirm authenticity, she’d have to buy me a horse for my next birthday.

“I won the bid on an auction site.”

“You, who thought PayPal was a friend that paid for lunch, bought something off the internet?” She knew I loved her.

My parents appreciated nature so I bought them each a tree; Mom a Redbud, harbinger of spring, Dad a Japanese Maple. When a heavy snowfall cracked Mom’s tree, Dad fixed it with wire and duct tape.  Mom caught the grill on fire, not the food on the grill, but the entire gas grill. So as not to ignite their house, Mom pushed the grill off the porch and into Dad’s tree.

These gifts were work. I’d have to keep each parent away from the other’s tree.

A book on tree care stated that during hot weather the leaves of a Japanese Maple may dry out and curl. There wasn’t mention of catching every leaf on fire and toasting to a crisp. Dad’s tree now had a name, Torch, if it lived.

Pruning could only do so much. Prayers went like this “Please, God, don’t let these trees die. Dad meant well and didn’t cause intentional disease. Mom tried to save the house.” When the red bud flowered and Torch grew leaves, my parents were given new respect for nature and me, renewed faith.

When gifting, it really is the thought that counts.

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