The 12 Gifts of Christmas

The 12 Gifts of Christmas

Not sure what to give your mother for the holidays? Thankfully, I’ve come up with some great gift ideas you can give her wrapped around my mother’s favorite holiday song.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me …

A Dictionary
My mom was a fanatical reader and was always looking up the definition of words. One year (before the invention of iPhones), I got her a giant hardcover Webster’s Dictionary and she used it until the day she passed. 

On the second day …
Crossword Puzzles
My mother loved words and was constantly doing a crossword puzzle. One Christmas I got her a subscription to a crossword puzzle club where they sent her 10 puzzles from around the country a month. She was a crossword puzzle master!
 
On the third day …
Pink Fuzzy Bathrobe
My mom probably thought it was tacky but because I got it for her, she wore it for years until it disintegrated. 
 
On the fourth day …
High School Jacket
She went to West Catholic High, so one year I drove to the school and got her a West Catholic jacket. Not only did I get her that, but since I was already there, I asked for her high school report cards and amazingly they gave me copies of them. My mom loved the jacket but not quite so much the report cards as they showed she was never quite the academic whiz that she claimed she had been to us all those years. Gotcha!
 
On the fifth day …
A Garden Hose
We had a front lawn the size of a postage stamp, but boy did she love to water it. The hose that she had been using for years had a million leaks and believe it or not this gift really excited her. Score!
 
On the sixth day …
An Electric Can Opener
However, I struck out with this gift. I got it the Christmas after I got her the garden hose and while it was a gift that she really needed (boy, this present is dating me), she thought it was more of an appliance for the kitchen than a “personal” gift for her. So that was it for these types of gifts. Which made shopping for her a little bit more difficult, but I must admit more fun.
 
On the seventh day …
A Hardback Copy of Rosemary’s Baby
You are probably reading this saying, “Rosemary’s Baby?! The Satanic thriller? Rosemary’s Baby? One of the creepiest movies of all time?” Well, it was the hottest book of the year. Three times my mother tried to reserve the book at our library and was declined all three times because the backlog of reservations for it went back a couple months. (By the way, I adopted this reserving book habit of my mother’s because I love reserving books myself at my Mullica Hill branch.) Mom lit up like a pinball machine (or a Christmas tree) when she unwrapped it and while the rest of the neighborhood was busy returning gifts the day after Christmas, my mother stayed home and read the entire book in one sitting. I remember us going to see the movie together later when it came out. So, it’s fitting that today I own that very same hardback copy.
 
On the eighth day …
Tickets to see Luciano Pavarotti
My mother adored Pavarotti. He was coming to the Academy of Music in January. This was years before I became “Big Daddy Graham.” I had a friend whose aunt worked in the Academy’s box office. I would have been eternally grateful to her just for getting two tickets for me to buy, but she came up with two tickets to seats that were on the stage with Luciano. On the stage! It was one of the highlights of my mother’s life and one she talked about for the rest of it.
 
On the ninth day …
A Joint
My God, I never thought that I would write about this, but being that marijuana is practically legal in New Jersey now, why the heck not? Let’s just say that my mother was a little more forward thinking than the rest of the moms in the neighborhood. One Christmas, I gave my mom a big, fat, killer Hawaiian joint. She had expressed to me one day that she wondered what the fuss was all about. I bought this little case for it and when she opened it up, she initially laughed, but very quickly got paranoid about it. “What if I get arrested for this thing?! What would you tell your friends? That I was in the slammer?” Now mind you, my mother was the most honest person I’ve ever known, and no policeman had ever stepped one foot in our house. She decided that she would smoke with her nutty friend Dolores. Ordinarily I would drive my mom over to her friend’s house, but this time she insisted on taking the trolley. “What if the police pull you over for not coming to a dead stop at a stop sign or something?” So, she took the trolley. An hour later she and Dolores called me laughing and giggling like high school seniors. And it was the last time she ever indulged.
 
On the 10th day …
Laura’s Fudge
Laura’s is in Wildwood and was my mom’s favorite fudge in the world. It was mine also and whenever we went down the Shore, I would practically attack the girl who would handle the free sample tray. Well, Laura’s was open year-round (still is) and one year I got her a pound. I must admit I devoured a couple pieces myself.
 
On the 11th day …
The Singing Gudonis Siblings
My brother Tony and my sisters Janet and Liz used to sing for my mother accompanied by Tony’s guitar. My mom could never get enough of this. But we were all living out of the house now, so one holiday we recorded six Christmas standards and my mom just wore that cassette out.
 
On the 12th day …
Me
My buddy Wheels and I quietly snuck on to my mom’s porch with a big, empty refrigerator box. I climbed in it, Wheels put a big ribbon on it, rang the doorbell and ran. Mom opened the door, exclaimed, “What the hell is this?” and I popped out of the box. There’s no truth to the rumor she tried to return me the next day.

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Happy holidays everybody! 
 

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Published and copyrighted in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 17, Issue 9 (December 2020).


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Author: Big Daddy Graham

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