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Oh, god

I got an unexpected care package from my folks today. To understand why my heart sank when I saw the sender, let me tell you what was in this one:

  • A jacket and scarf
  • A five-pack of multicolored dish towels
  • A pair of oven gloves
  • A collapsible rubber pasta strainer
  • A terrycloth pad for drying things upon
  • A pair of combination padlocks still in their packaging
  • Two family portraits I painted for them as a gift 25 years ago (um, ouch)
  • A slingshot
  • A harmonica

At least this one is merely inexplicable. Sometimes, they send me clothes so horrible I can’t help but wonder if I’m being mocked. Or personal items that clearly show wear.

I’d put it down to senility, but I’ve been getting these packages all my adult life.

That’s not the worst bit. The worst bit is, I’m going to have to call and thank them in a minute.

…more booze…


Comment from Scubafreak
Time: July 24, 2012, 9:55 pm

They’re just trying to keep you grounded in your redneck roots there, Stoatie….

On a sadder note, We just lost Sherman Hemsley aka George Jefferson today….


Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: July 24, 2012, 10:05 pm

Ms Weasel…you are not alone.

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: July 24, 2012, 10:12 pm

My last comment got marked as spam…makes me proud, that….all I said was $%^^^%$.

Anyway, the slingshot could come in handy!

Comment from AliceH
Time: July 24, 2012, 10:21 pm

I’m not really a “count your blessings” type, but really – your reaction puzzles me.

Comment from USCitizen
Time: July 24, 2012, 10:26 pm

The slingshot looks fun! Check the condition of the rubber bands before you give a good pull, though.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 24, 2012, 10:29 pm

My grandmother used to do that. Birthday presents that she had bought at yard sales (before there even /were/ yard sales!) Totally inexplicable gifts. . .I can remember crying in college when it finally dawned on me that was all there was ever going to be. Not that she didn’t love us–she very much did. She just hadn’t a clue about presents.

But. I listen to my law partner and our secretary talk about present shopping at Christmas time, and a tiny part of my soul finds itself in sympathy with my Grandmother.

Still ‘n’ all. I’m with Skandia Recluse. And, chin up–we all love you and would send you good presents if we were your family.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 24, 2012, 10:29 pm

Want me to kick it loose, QuasiModo, or would that cause a temporal rift?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 24, 2012, 10:37 pm

Oh, and no…the Internet Defense League badge is new. I followed a link and then read a thing and then they invited me to sign up and display something in my sidebar and…well, it was late and I don’t really remember.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 24, 2012, 10:53 pm

Hm. I’m not sure how I can describe this further without being tacky or unforgivabley whiny, AliceH.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 24, 2012, 10:56 pm

Sweas–if signing up as part of the Internet Defense League is the worst thing you ever do late at night on the spur of the moment, you’re in /really/ good shape!

And. . .you can’t really make people who haven’t experienced the phenomenon understand it. One can understand AliceH’s puzzlement; if you haven’t walked in those shoes, it’s hard to imagine the desolation.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 24, 2012, 11:13 pm

Sigh. I can’t let it go. Stoaty, feel free to feed this as a voluntary offering to Akismet, if it crosses the line. Here is my, entirely speculative,response to puzzlement:

A jacket and scarf: The jacket being a size neither you nor Uncle B can expect to fit into in the next decade, and/or both in a fabric you detest, and/or definitely in a color that makes you look like overripe cheese
A five-pack of multicolored dish towels: but you don’t use dish towels (preferring paper towels) or already have an oversupplied drawerful, and in any event the colors. . .do we need to go there again?
A pair of oven gloves: In color/style that swears at every single other furnishing in your kitchen, and is desperately inconvenient to use.
A collapsible rubber pasta strainer: But you don’t eat much pasta, and already /have/ a device for straining the small amount you do eat.
A terrycloth pad for drying things upon: OK, I’m not quite sure what this is–but it sounds like a really silly idea. Presumably you have a dish drainer?
A pair of combination padlocks still in their packaging: Very nice, if you had /any/ use for them; which you don’t.
Two family portraits I painted for them as a gift 25 years ago (um, ouch): So nice to know they treasure them; “do they actually remember who painted them” does drift through your mind, although /probably/ they do.
A slingshot: Well, yeah, OK. . .if well made and in good condition. And if you don’t already have more than one slingshot. You can always try to wing foxes or summat. Oh. Right.
A harmonica: Do you play? If so, how many do you already own?

In my experience, what really hurts is that it seems so clear that the giver has no clue what would be acceptable, but isn’t really interested in the effort required to make it /look like/ they actually thought about you as a person.

Comment from ME
Time: July 24, 2012, 11:18 pm

Oh that is awesome….. Remember you actually have parents not all of us do. come on really? you liked it. The little girl in you was there if even for a moment.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 24, 2012, 11:35 pm

I have a parent, ME…and the harmonica and slingshot would be his contribution. Maybe the padlocks. The rest…Can’t Hark pretty much has it nailed.

There’s decades of stepfamily baggage in the mix, too…all too grubby for my nice little blog.

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: July 24, 2012, 11:36 pm

Ah, I see you saw my spam filtered comment. No worries then…

Comment from Gromulin
Time: July 24, 2012, 11:36 pm

Not to be a snot, but just be glad your folks are still around to annoy you occasionally. All I have left to show my kids who my parents were are boxes filed with odd crap. Every bit a treasure to me now.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 24, 2012, 11:44 pm

My mother died long ago, Grom. I’d make a whole stepmother thing out of this, but to be perfectly fair, my mother sent me even crazier packages. She used to clean house into a box and ship it.

To my work address.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 24, 2012, 11:52 pm

She used to clean house into a box and ship it

Ouch, ouch, ouch, hot coals, hot coals!

Think this may be one of those things that only a small club actually gets, Swease. I mean. . .if the package originally detailed had been just the jacket and scarf, oddly enough it might have been bearable, in my experience. But you have the sense that the giver’s selection strategy is like when you keep filling your plate at a buffet because you don’t actually have any appetite, and you keep hoping something will actually be appealing once you get back to the table. They mean well, and (in their own twisted way) they love you. . .but anyone who thinks that makes it better just hasn’t been there.

Sorry to keep perseverating. I’ll shut up now. If a hug is of any use, please accept this as one.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 24, 2012, 11:52 pm

Can’t Hark has it exactly right.

I’m an official non-combatant in this one but I swear it looks like enemy action to me.

If they were mine I’d soap the damned stairs.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 24, 2012, 11:54 pm

Heh. “Perseverating” was one of my mother’s favorite words. She taught Special Ed for years…

Comment from AliceH
Time: July 25, 2012, 1:15 am

I am doubly unfamiliar with this whole package thing, since not only have I not been in the habit of receiving awkward or awful gifts, I’ve never received any care packages from my folks whatsoever. If at some point my mother got a crazy impulse to send something to me, I don’t believe I’d give two seconds thought to what was in the box, since I’d be overwhelmed by the fact of the box itself.

So, I guess I’m sorry you find the contents meaningful enough to be worth finding awkward, but not awful enough to just empty into the bin and be done with it.

Comment from EZnSF
Time: July 25, 2012, 1:15 am

LOL. Stoaty with a slingshot!
Board up your windows and the cat.

Slingshot should be the official Weasel armament.

Comment from Allen
Time: July 25, 2012, 1:28 am

Oh, I get it now, I just didn’t recognize the form. My wife has some family like that, but they tend to be a little more aggressive.


Comment from Redd
Time: July 25, 2012, 1:30 am

They’re old – that’s all. They are afraid to throw out perfectly good stuff or things you might have given them and will be tossed when they die.

Save the box. You’ll be doing the same thing someday. lol!

Comment from Redd
Time: July 25, 2012, 1:31 am

Those portraits are pretty nice, by the way.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 25, 2012, 1:34 am

Oh! Oh, my, well possibly yes. If at some point my mother got a crazy impulse to send something to me, I don’t believe I’d give two seconds thought to what was in the box, since I’d be overwhelmed by the fact of the box itself.
So, I guess I’m sorry you find the contents meaningful enough to be worth finding awkward, but not awful enough to just empty into the bin and be done with it.

Looks like AliceH is one of us, only in the graduate student division. I’ll concede at this point that my parents, grandparents, and collateral relatives never did this to me. AliceH’s experience unquestionably trumps mine (and, yeah, I am quite sure that was not her intent, more power to her!). Sounds like this is actually someone who gets the point, but is looking at it from a painfully different perspective. AliceH–is a hug of any use to you?

Comment from twolaneflash
Time: July 25, 2012, 1:34 am

Your folks love you very much. There was true treasure in that box that your aging parents don’t want to fall into anyone else’s hands: the pictures YOU painted, the harmonica Aunt Nanny played that gave you so much joy as a child (you don’t remember, but they do), a slingshot your Dad carved for you when you were 4 (you’ve forgotten). Because they didn’t have bubble wrap, they packed those treasures in the softest things they had at hand: a pack of dishtowels, a scarf, a pad, rubber gloves, a jacket. The padlocks were for locking up your treasures. When they’re gone, your folks I mean, even the handwritten address label on that box will become an icon of love. Smile, and send a loving thank letter in return, along with a treasure to replace the ones they gave up. You are blessed.

Comment from Frit
Time: July 25, 2012, 1:35 am

I can relate, Stoaty.

I’ve gotten obvious hand-me-downs, re-gifts (sometimes with the original price tag still attached), and otherwise senseless ‘gifts’ from the dad & stepmonster, and also the mom person.

Only my sister has enough of a clue to ask what I’d like, and then do her best to get it for me. And she is certified nuts. (Seriously – she is on mental disability. Even she has mentioned to me she knows she doesn’t think the way ‘normal’ people do.)


Comment from Mrs. Compton
Time: July 25, 2012, 1:52 am

I’m sorry Stoaty, been there done that and got the T-shirt that was to small for me. But I must have done something right, my DD has the best giver of gift gene, so I know from her she’s put thought into it for weeks and not stopped off at the druggist on the way home or worse yet remembered the next day. Some of my family suck.

Comment from Armybrat
Time: July 25, 2012, 2:04 am

I used to on occasion get the same type of crap from my mother in law, difference was 1) the mean bitch actually put some thought into finding just the most miserable crap to remind me that she hated me and 2) the bitch would usually wait until several months after Christmas to drive home the point that she couldn’t be bothered to think about us during the holidays. Mind you, she didn’t send us some crap every year- that would have taken effort on her part. She was a mean and petty woman and the world is better off without her in it.

Comment from Oh Hell
Time: July 25, 2012, 2:21 am

Ack, I can’t believe how lucky I was in my “choice” of parents. I am sending you the best virtual {{{HUG}}} I have….

Comment from Solaratov
Time: July 25, 2012, 2:27 am

Perhaps it’s a puzzle…and each item is a clue.
And you haven’t solved it yet.

Or, perhaps it all has meaning to them and they just can’t imagine that it doesn’t all have the same meaning to you.

Or not…as the case may be.

Comment from AliceH
Time: July 25, 2012, 2:34 am

You’re very kind, Can’t hark, but I think I’m good.

Comment from Oceania
Time: July 25, 2012, 2:36 am

Sweasel – there is a glitch on your page … it is not displaying correctly – anyone else see it?
When one submits a comment – it flashes up indicating that there are too many comments being made!
If only 🙂

Comment from Mrs. Compton
Time: July 25, 2012, 3:14 am

Have the death panels started? Chad Everett just went to the big ER in the sky.

Comment from Michael
Time: July 25, 2012, 3:21 am

A harmonica? Did it come with one of those cool Neil Young “hands-free” harmonica thingies? ‘Cause if it did, and you could find some banjo tabs for Rust Never Sleeps or Heart of Gold, you could totally own the next viral youtube vid…

When I get a package from my blood relatives, it’s usually delivered by a process server (mostly), and it always includes a bible

Comment from AliceH
Time: July 25, 2012, 3:30 am

No – Not Dr. Gannon! Say it ain’t so.

Comment from PatAZ
Time: July 25, 2012, 3:46 am

I once got a package from my grandmother that had underwear and slips in it. The only problem was, it was hers and I was only 10. I am happy to report I never got another package from her.

I love sending packages that I know will be appreciated. I once sent my son (on a Navy ship) 20 pounds of halloween candy. He put it out and said it was gone within an hour. Now that’s a good package.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: July 25, 2012, 4:46 am

Well hell who can’t use a slingshot?

Comment from Nina
Time: July 25, 2012, 11:09 am

Dang, I send my kids stuff like food and new clothes and good stuff. Never knew I could get away with that sort of thing!

I’m still in England but have been tied to the north because of three reasons: Emily’s prof is insisting that she get to a certain point on her thesis this week, so we’ve been in the library while she researches and types and I do Facebook and play Angry Birds and listen to Country Music. Two, Mark’s had the chance to work this week, and he can’t say no to that. Third, they’ve been moving even father north, and that’s been a pain and a half. Maybe even two entire pains.

Some vacation. 🙂

Plus I was up in Oslo for the weekend, because I’m just so cool like that. I sure hope we get in one more trip south, but it ain’t looking good this trip. I’ll have to come back, I suppose.

Comment from Becca
Time: July 25, 2012, 1:44 pm

I didn’t even go there, gratitude v. non-gratitude, when I read Sweas’ post. I just found the psychotic combination of items deliciously funny. (Padlocks?)

That stuff goes together like cocaine and waffles.

Like Easter morning and Lyme disease.

Like tuna fish and cigarettes.

Comment from Becca
Time: July 25, 2012, 1:50 pm

(Ingratitude, rather.)

Comment from Redd
Time: July 25, 2012, 2:46 pm

Of course, padlocks. Stoaty needs them for her school locker and bike.

Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: July 25, 2012, 3:17 pm

Now see I thought the padlocks were for those cool bracelets they sent her last year.

Comment from razorbacker
Time: July 25, 2012, 4:28 pm

My sister sends boxes like that. I don’t mind; I just keep what might be useful and sh*tcan the rest.

But thank her for them? Naw. I just call and tell her that I love her dearly, but not get too specific about why.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: July 25, 2012, 5:43 pm

Strangely, I understand the logic path which led to this combination package very easily. Experience on my end you see.

We start here: Everyone in America knows England is godawful cold. Your folks know that Badger Manor is very old and everyone knows that old houses are cold. CONCLUSION: Poor Weasel needs a jacket and scarf.
The jacket and scarf chosen aren’t very pretty or good but they were a great bargain and anyhow, Stoatie has never been one of those girly-girls. She won’t mind the colors. Let’s buy them. We need to send her a care package and look how cheap they are!

Shipping a package to England is expensive! Learned that last time, so let’s not buy a fancy box. Let’s wait till we get a good one at a shop. Months go by. Now we have a box but the jacket and scarf don’t fill it up. Can’t send a half-empty box!

More time passes. Say, what a clever folding pasta strainer and only $3.99. Purchase!! Well, don’t really need it in my kitchen – poor Weasel-bet she doesn’t get much spagetthi in England. All bangers and mash there. Bet she’d enjoy some good spagetthi: in the box.

Look what I found – these old portraits she did. Bet she’d like to see them …..and there’s plenty of room in the box. Been sitting on the sideboard for 3months now – we really need to get it mailed.

What are you doing wrapping those pictures in newspaper/bubble wrap? That stuff just wastes space and we have to pay to ship it! Let’s put something useful in as padding – how about some dishtowels, and say, I wonder if she has any hotpads for dumping out the hot water into the pasta strainer?

Bet Weasel is missing her gun there in England… think I’ll tease her here a bit by tossing in a slingshot..tell her she can’t hunt foxes with it since she can’t have a gun. Now let’s get this in the mail finally.

Hmmmmm somehow we ended up with a boxajunk here. Let me toss in something small just to let her know we really love
her and so she won’t think we’re really worried that she is freezing and starving to death raising chickens for a living on a farm in the country.

What! $92.50 for postage! Nah, put it on the slow boat.

And thus we have the story of the jacket and scarf purchased in February arriving just at Midsummer’s Eve

Comment from Redd
Time: July 25, 2012, 7:02 pm

If I was going to send stoaty a care package, I would put in a home brew kit, specifically, the one seen on Return to River Cottage, episode 5: http://veehd.com/video/4673050_Return-To-River-Cottage-05

Stoaty would have to supply her own barley and hops.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: July 25, 2012, 11:09 pm

When I was about 13, my step-grandmother (common law; my family has been proudly white trash for generations) once asked me to clean a stall out in a neighbor’s barn so she’d have a place to keep their registered quarter horse filly (which neither she nor my stroke-victim grandfather could ride). I spent the better part of a day digging out knee-deep horseshit. Frankly, I was doing it for my granddad (who I adored) and not expecting any sort of payment. When I was finished, my step-grandmother thanked me and handed me two quarters “for bubble gum.” I was too flabbergasted to say anything but thanks.

I said all that to say this: Old people are fucking clueless. Oh, and we are the old people now.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 25, 2012, 11:12 pm

D’yaknow, SV, that has the awful ring of truth to it 🙂

Comment from jwpaine
Time: July 25, 2012, 11:18 pm

Yeah, SV. Like Unka said, that has to be it. That’s my answer. No need to use up a lifeline.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: July 25, 2012, 11:48 pm

What Uncle Badger said. And what jwpaine said about who is the old people. Now, when did /that/ happen?

Comment from Joan Of Argghh!
Time: July 26, 2012, 12:33 am

My earliest memories of time with my mom was being with her at the Catholic Thrift shop where she volunteered. It was a lifelong dedication of hers. You can imagine the strange and horrible clothes and gifts she gave over the years. They never did know me.

I totally felt this post down into my soul. But I will say, as my parents aged they asked me to take back the paintings. I think it was a fear that they’d fall into stranger’s hands if they passed away suddenly, or ended up in long term care.

Comment from Gromulin
Time: July 26, 2012, 1:57 am

Stoaty, Me too. They’ve been gone for a long time. Since I have the advantage in knowing some small bits about your folks, I can say they sound like my family. I have a brother that carries on the tradition of the oddball package. Every birthday, I get some of the finest selections of the Goodwill store in Moraga, CA. (Google the demographics) Last year, it was a score – a NZ All-Blacks Rugby shirt (well used)and a still-tagged polo shirt from the Old Course at St. Andrews. Not fakes…just cast-offs from the 1%.
Uncle B: – If they were mine I’d soap the damned stairs. …I can’t wait to work that in to my lexicon.

Comment from Elphaba
Time: July 31, 2012, 1:52 am

LOL…are slingshots even legal in the U.K.? Seeing as how they fire projectiles and all?

P.S. Your parents may possibly be related to my grandmother, the Queen of bizarre and useless gifts…although I would point out in your case that hand towels are definitely useful, as are pasta strainers.

Comment from Chris
Time: August 4, 2012, 2:24 pm

When I was living in Germany, my parents would mail me packages of old magazines and catalogs. I would then have to pay to dispose of them in the recycling bin.

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