Weirdest Christmas Presents

By Jeff Salter

Quite logically (for this week leading up to Christmas), we’re discussing some of the weirdest gifts we’ve ever received.

I’ve given this a good deal of thought and realized that before y’all could appreciate the weird gifts I’ve gotten, you need to comprehend some of the more typical ones I’ve received over the years. [I’m focusing mainly on my younger years].

Most potentially valuable gift (if I’d been able to hold on to it)

My memory of the specific year is hazy, but I’m pretty sure I was not yet in kindergarten (i.e., the early 1950s) when my grandmother gave my brother and me (each) a brand new Mickey Mouse wristwatch.  One of the original first generation MM watches, which – had I kept it – would (in good condition or better) be worth a small fortune on eBay these days.  However, that poor watch took a beating and (somewhere along the way) disappeared completely.  Who gives a watch to a pre-schooler?  BTW, I have a vague recollection that my younger sister – then a toddler – received a Minnie Mouse watch that same year… but I can’t swear to it.

More or less ‘typical’ gifts

One year in grade school (probably fourth grade), I’d asked for a basketball and got a volleyball instead.  I guess my parents thought – quite generically – that a ball was a ball.  It wasn’t.  So the next year I asked for a basketball again … and actually got one.  However, that ball was ‘dead’ — wouldn’t bounce right.  So the next day, my parents exchanged it for a good one.

[Since my birthday was only 11 days before Christmas, I often got ‘combo’ gifts… which cost more than my parents had budgeted for either event by itself.]  One year – junior H.S., I guess – I was given a well-used [and partly damaged in front] 12-foot wooden Jon boat as a combination birthday and Christmas gift.  It cost $15, too much for either my birthday or Christmas alone.

One year, the combo gift was a well-used second-hand record player and AM radio — also for $15.  Don’t recall the brand name, but the needle housing was shaped like a snake’s head!  The only drawback of that unit was that its needle was badly worn; but we could never find a new needle to fit it — not even in several New Orleans music shops.

Now for the list of bizarre gifts

Okay, that partial list should give you an idea of the unusual status quo of REGULAR gifts I received as a kid for this holiday season.  Wait ‘til you hear about the WEIRD ones.

Both of these gifts were for Christmases when my grandmother, Nora Lee Robinson, lived in Atlanta.  We lived in MaconGA for one of these years and possibly one of these Christmases was when we still lived in StarkvilleMS.  [Other than these two gifts I’m about to mention, her typical Christmas gifts to each of us three kids was a pair of PJs and one crisp dollar bill (each) pinned to the tree.]

For any youngsters reading this, you won’t likely recognize the name Ted Mack … but he was in TV/radio network show business and went around the country supposedly looking for talent to feature on the “Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour.”  It was one of my grandmother’s fondest dreams for my older brother and I to somehow land a spot on that show.  So one year, she gave each of us matching plastic trumpets[Try to imagine the excitement on my parents’ faces as we unwrapped those.]  Needless to say, we never made the short list for Ted Mack’s tryouts.  In fact, I don’t recall ever playing an actual true note on that thing… though it was the source of a LOT of noise.  And when we were playing cowboys and Indians, it often took the place of a bugle and blared out the notice that our cavalry was on the way!

But I’ve saved the best for last: in the annals of kooky gifts, surely this takes the cake.  For either my pre-school Christmas or the kindergarten year, my grandmother gave me a popcorn popper.  Yep … electric heating element base and a pan with a heavy glass cover.

Now let’s just suppose that I was a popcorn-eating fanatic – which, by the way, I don’t recall in any way whatsoever – would any of YOU give a five-year-old ME an electric popcorn popper?  Of course, I was never allowed to use it by myself – only with adult supervision – so it’s not like I could just pop up a batch whenever I wanted some popcorn.  [And, BTW, for you younger readers, this was long before microwave popcorn packets … and even before those Jiffy Pop contraptions – which you’d prepare on your stove top – became popular in TV commercials.]

Question:

So what’s the most bizarre gift YOU’ve ever received at Christmas?

 

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About jeff7salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Twelve completed novels and five completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015, "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015, "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015, "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014, "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014, "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014, "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014, "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013, "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013, "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013, "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012, "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012. Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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37 Responses to Weirdest Christmas Presents

  1. You’ll appreciate the opening part of my post for tomorrow, Jeff, where I discuss presents that were just “off”…your volleyball for a basketball is something that would have happened to me. And maybe had we run your grandmother into one of my aunts, we may have come up with one relative who gave age-appropriate gifts.

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  2. LOL! Two years ago I got a popcorn popper for Christmas -which was awesome because I really wanted one. 6 months later I got it again for my birthday… from the same person! 🙂

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    • jeff7salter says:

      Ha. That’s funny, Kate. Guess that person got a deal on a bulk purchase and lost track of who she/he gave them to.
      Interestingly, I’ve done the same thing myself … with some of the grandkids gifts. I saw a wooden pirate sword that I knew one of the grandsons would love, so I got it. Turns out I’d bought that same sword for that same kid the prev. year!

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  3. Mary Wild says:

    I got a small pink plastic elephant. The trunk moved and had a tiny light in the tip. This was in the family gift exchange. I got one gift and that was it!

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  4. Calico says:

    One year I got a can of Diced tomatoes and dry salsa mix

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    • jeff7salter says:

      Hmm. What was that person wanting you to do, Calico?
      What can you make with those ingredients … besides salsa?

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      • Calico says:

        Salsa. It’s pretty good but the sad part was they just grabbed it from their pantry back stock. and no it wasn’t a gag gift…that was the actual gift 🙂

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      • jeff7salter says:

        My Dad was terrible about buying gifts. He would go to garage sales and get several very cheap, very used items and then hand them out to us. My brother actually got offended. I just thought it was cheap…

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    • Calico says:

      Considering the fact that it was a parent and I felt more like I had been forgotten until the last second I will admit to being a little hurt. BUT this parent has also forgotten my birthday for the past few years

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      • jeff7salter says:

        that’s a shame. even if the gift is small and inexpensive, it’s always much nicer to have been remembered.

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  5. Joselyn says:

    I imagine the look on your parents’ faces was similar to mine when the twins’ teacher gave them kazoos. I can’t say I’ve gotten any really strange gifts, but I have gotten slippers, bathrobes, and bath towels three different times from my husband in the fifteen years we’ve been married. And yes, they were almost exactly alike. Apparently, I’m hard to shop for.

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    • jeff7salter says:

      LOL, Joselyn. Obviously, your hubby is very considerate of your comfort and wants to regularly aid that comfort with new, soft, plush slippers/robe/towels.

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  6. Karen King says:

    When my girls were small they always used to buy me glittery red or blue nail varnish for Christmas. They loved it and thought it was the best present ever. 🙂

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    • jeff7salter says:

      sounds like your girls found the perfect gift — affordable … and something you could use (& wanted)!
      Thanks for visiting, Karen.

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  7. Heather Gray says:

    I don’t really remember Christmas gifts growing up. I know we had gifts, but I just can’t recall. Since marrying, though, Christmas has been an adventure. My son got me a spatula the Christmas before last. Some friends of ours took him shopping and told him he could pick anything he wanted for me. And he picked a plastic spatula. Apparently he picked bobby pins, too, but they talked him out of that. One of my funniest gift memories is actually a birthday. My grandmother bought me underwear for my sweet sixteen. And not girlie underwear. Oh no. Granny panties. I was horrified at the time, but now I can’t think about it without laughing. 😉

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    • jeff7salter says:

      granny panties at age 16? Horrors!
      Love the spatula though.
      When our son was in Jr. Hi, I took him Christmas shopping for a gift for his mom (my wife) and after perusing everything in Sears, he settled on some dishtowels.

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      • Heather Gray says:

        I forgot this part…my older female cousin who (obviously) turned 16 before me got an opal (her birthstone) ring for her sweet sixteen. So you can imagine my surprise when the emerald ring I was expecting (because I was oh so realistic) turned out to be underwear… 😉

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      • jeff7salter says:

        yeah, that would definitely make those skivvies sting a lot worse.

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    • Iris B says:

      LOL Heather that’s funny. My Oma gave all the grandkids knickers for xmas, each and every year, nice and not so nice ones. When Oma passed away, we all were actually a bit stuck, because we had never bought underwear and had no idea about sizes or brands.

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  8. I can’t think of a weird gift I’ve received, but I remember one year we attended an event just before my daughter’s fifth birthday she won a raffle prize – and it was an electric meat slicer! She thought it was her birthday present and wanted to play with it. I imagine my face was like Joselyn’s at seeing the kazoos and your parents when you got the trumpets.

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    • jeff7salter says:

      yikes — electric meat slicer! I cannot think of a 5-yr-old who should have one of those unless he was a possessed doll named Chuckie.

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  9. Iris B says:

    What a great post Jeff, loved the volleyball/basketball present. What a shame on the Mickey Mouse watch, right? I suppose there are many grown up man out there nowadays who wish they’d have looked after the matchbox cars a little bit more.
    As for the popcorn maker …. not sure whether I agree. I can remember my girls always wanting to make popcorn when we visited my friend. It was a big thrill for them 🙂
    As for a weird present … I wrote about it already on Monday, but I’ve got to admit, apart from a few duds from a certain person I seem to have been lucky so far 🙂

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  10. Micki Gibson says:

    I’m late and I may be a young’un, but I DID recognize the Ted Mack name but only because I recall reading in one of my old “Who’s Who in Baton Twirling” (true story…they used to have those) and I recall some of the more, ahem, veteran twirlers and coaches had been on that show. I believe it is the precursor to the 70’s Gong Show and today’s American Idol/America’s Got Talent/So You Think You Can Dance etc…

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    • jeff7salter says:

      True — in many ways it was the forerunner of these modern shows. However, in the modern shows, I also detect a theme — on the part of the producers, I suppose — to deliberately bring on stage people with no talent … so the snarky judges (like Simon Cowell) can sneer and ridicule and roll eyes.

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  11. pjharjo says:

    I’m sorry, Jeff, but I was quite entertained in my late reading of your blog on “weird” Christmas presents. LOL! I recall getting an Easy Bake Oven in grade school, but nothing I could electrocute myself with as a pre-schooler! LOL!

    Janette

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  12. Pingback: Merry Christmas to All | fourfoxesonehound

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