Thursday, January 30, 2003

From Christmas to Valentine’s Day to Halloween, the belter’s mom marks the occasion by buying holiday-themed junk, packing it in boxes, and sending it out west to her daughter and granddaughter. The size and punctuality of these deliveries leads me to believe that doing this makes old Barb very happy. Maybe a little too happy. I think she sees sending stuff to Jenni and Cypress as her main purpose in life. She’s quite a lonely woman—lonely but not alone, as they say. Giving gifts keeps her connected.

The Valentine’s Day stuff—four boxes worth—arrived Monday and Tuesday. Everything inside is either heart-shaped or pink, except for my present, which was one of those mini R/C cars (pretty cool, really). I’m practicing my driving so I’ll be able to run over mice with it.

Barb’s big on toys. Sometimes in these boxes Cypress gets little plastic wind-up animals that walk along and drop lumps of “poo” (actually jelly beans) out of their spring-loaded butts. I got one last Christmas, too. I’m glad we’re spared these on Valentine’s Day.

There’s always one or two items that make us go “what the hell?” with their randomness. They send us into analytical overdrive as we try to trace Barb’s line of thought while she purchased, packed and sent them to us. What did Jenn say to her last month? What did Barb say to Jenn? Was this on sale? Is this a joke?

This time the randomness prize went to a pink ceramic pitcher in the shape of a pig—a sitting pig, with neck outstretched and mouth agape. Your beverage of choice comes streaming from its maw into your glass. That mouth…it was disturbing and flared. It looked more like a receptacle than a spigot. My first thought was to place the pig by the bedside in case I needed to take a leak at night. The belter ended up putting a flower in its mouth and taking it down to the “free stuff” table by the mailboxes in our building—“Look, everybody—novelty vase!” Miraculously, it was gone the next morning.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, because sometimes Jenni’s mom sends us nice stuff. The box of assorted cheddar we got was nice, as were the brownies. The cutting boards that Uncle Gord made are great. Anything we can eat or store conveniently is welcome.

Same goes for the set of dishes we got a couple months ago. They belonged to Jenn’s grandmother, and they’re almost too good for sketchies like us. You’d expect to see them on the Antiques Roadshow—good Staffordshire quality, with an olde English country scene motif that reminds me of an early Genesis album cover. Hey, Supper’s Ready!

But the nice thoughts generated by those gifts quickly go away when the next onslaught arrives, and we have to borrow hand carts, friends, and vehicles to bring the boxes home, and our living room floor disappears under drifts of bubble wrap, wadded newspaper, and stryrofoam peanuts, and we resign ourselves to throwing away 90 per cent of the junk we’ve unwrapped. That’s when I have to agree with the belter: “she must be stopped.”

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