Thursday, December 18, 2014

Worst Christmas Gift Ever?

My father-in-law was an interesting man. Highly intelligent, but a bit quirky.

Early in my marriage to his son, I learned this lesson. Normally my mother-in-law did the shopping, but one year, for reasons unknown to me, he took it upon himself to go out and buy additional gifts for everyone. Of course he decided to do this late on Christmas Eve once all the "real" stores had closed. There was a discount store near their house called Zayre. They sold cheap stuff, not Wal-Mart cheap, think cheaper. 

So he did his Christmas shopping and came home and wrapped all his goodies. Using is regular technique this meant no bows and our names written in black Sharpie on all the packages. 

On Christmas morning, we arrived at the house and amid much flinging of paper, I was handed a large, squishy package clearly from my father-in-law, although marked as "From Santa". When I opened it, there sat before me a 12-pack of Zayre brand toilet paper. I kid you not. 

My husband and I had been married 1 or 2 years at this point, and I was still unsure of my place in his family. And to be perfectly honest, his father scared me a bit. Not in the "he's going to haul off and hit me" way, but in the "he's so smart, clearly I'm missing something here" way. 

I stood with my package of toilet tissue, trying to determine if there was a hidden message here, finally stuttering out a thank you. His response was, "I figure you can never have too much tp".

As I watched others open their gifts from him, I felt a bit better. My brother-in-law had received windshield wipers that didn't fit his car. 

I never knew what happened that year and I don't remember another gift from that Christmas. What I do know is that by the next year, my mother-in-law was dead, killed in a car accident. And all the women in the family and extended friends, got diamond and sapphire tennis bracelets. 

Yep, that was my father-in-law in a nutshell.

linking up with Writer's Workshop


  1. I think your father-in-laws gift was sweet! There was another message in the gift giving. For unknown reasons he did the shopping that year. He did the best he could. He was thoughtful. He gave from his heart. I just love this story! I would treasure it and keep it close to my heart. What a sweet man!

  2. Love the story of the gifts your father-in-law gave; he sounds like a wonderful man, REALLY!! My husband has done some quirky (and hurtful) the year our daughter was in college - I carefully saved and bought her a piece of luggage; then HE went out a found a 3-piece set for her (EVEN AFTER I HAD SHOWN HIM WHAT I HAD BOUGHT...) oh, well!! What memories. Thanks for sharing!

  3. A couple of comments. We had a Zayre's in South Florida in the 70's. The other day my daughter called me from Trader Joe's to see if I needed anything, I said, "TP!" I told her to just wrap it up and put it under the tree! I wonder if she will! Your FIL probably a fun time buying those odd gifts and watching everyone's reaction!!!

  4. What an interesting Christmas memory. I wonder what I would say if I got TP for Christmas.

  5. The very intelligent are often eccentric. LOL

  6. You are all very generous in your interpretations. He was indeed a quirky man!

  7. Lovely story. He just really wanted to gift everyone with something. We are all quirky in our love for each other.

  8. one year, tennis bracelets the next. Can I adopt that man?

  9. Men. Funny and quirky. Maybe your mother-in-law gave him a strict Christmas allowance... (you know those impromptu arguments?) and he was proving his point he could be thoughtful. But he totally made up for it later, right? And his comment to you was AWESOME. What a great story. Welcome to 2015. May it bring you the best. Visiting here from MakaKat's Losin' It!


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