Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Choking on the Chalk



One of the great things about elderly relatives and old people in general, is that eventually they just stop trying. Instead of giving inadequate, age inappropriate, naff presents, they admit defeat and hand over the cash instead. It’s a fabulous eventuality for the youth of the era. The kid doesn’t have to try and thank the elderly relative in a fake manner, tinged with resentment for the dinosaur puzzle or a doe eyed baby doll. Instead, the youngster can demonstrate genuine glee, even if the amount is more suitable for a child in the 1920’s.

Cash is cash, no matter how meager. Young people can forgive the miserliness, because old people don’t grasp inflation or the exchange rate or the current value of either. I know, or rather, I remember when that transition crept into my own life, several decades ago. You love them in their decrepitude but really, how hard can it be? Something’s triggered in the expanding brain of the nearly teen; ‘ah well, what can you do, chalk it up to experience.’

It’s easy to remember amid the noise of the television, washer, drier, dish-washer and radio, simultaneous with my all too good fortune, white goods, wealth and an easy life style; as I pick out the candy wrappers from all the plant pots on the ground floor, because diabetics can cheat and none of my children are that devious, yet. I turn off running water and light switches as I travel in the new daylight. I gather detritus as I roam, lost glasses, dropped hankies, notes, clothes, dust bunnies and pills. How can any of us reasonably keep up? So much has changed in nearly a century.

I hear my daughter scream with delight as she comes rushing out of Nonna’s room at this unearthly hour of the morning. Wide eyed she fans out the green backs, a fortune. I watch her father flair with a mixture of irritation and despair, but Nonna’s not bothered, she’s perfectly happy, as anyone would be on Christmas Day. We sit everyone down in front of the pile of birthday presents, wrapped in blue for a girl. Her excitement is uncontainable as she begins - cards first; it’s a rule.

Pacing is everything.

The third card is from Nonna. As she rips it open; more greenbacks appear, a King’s ransom. I put my body between my daughter and my husband, before his hands can snatch it back, a gesture that no-one would understand, as instincts ignite reaction. He turns away to gouge his eye sockets, but that won’t erase the picture. All his careful plans dashed. All his precautions evaded. There is little hope of avoiding a repeat performance at Christmas, in ten days time.

Not now.

Don’t make a scene.

Deal with it later.

They’ll understand, given time, or at least one of them will.

4 comments:

farmwifetwo said...

I simply swipe the cash at this stage and it goes into their post-ed, post-teens accounts.

I'd offer up this rule... if cash is given atleast %50 must be put aside into a savings account/bond/education savings account. The rest can be spent and a thank you written telling the giver what you did with the $$.

jinksy said...

How well you describe a youngster's delight at maney for a present! I can remember being in that impecunious, youthful phase when ANY money was like gold dust! LOL :)

therextras said...

Good luck with that.

I just wrapped the bowls you made and put them under the (not finished) tree. Your work is lovely. Barbara

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