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Dear Mom—a holiday thank you note from your son

Nicole, showing one of mom’s Christmas gifts circa 2008.

Questionable Christmas gifts from my mom, who excels at such things.

Recently, I was having a drink with a former girlfriend when she mentioned the following post. I had been talking about my recent trip back to Winnipeg when she brought up the time my mom sent a Christmas gift package, in her own inimitable style. I’d completely forgotten about the post but when I went back to read it I kind of liked it. I guess I could’ve waited until a more appropriate time of the year than when the Vancouver skies are filled with wildfire smoke, but in a couple of months I probably will have forgotten about it again.

It was originally published in Jan 2009, on a blog I kept over at

Dear Mom,

Thanks for the Christmas gift. No, really.

I mean, I know we don’t really celebrate Christmas, or anything, really. The whole season has always been kind of a nebulous concept in our family. Growing up in a Jewish household that didn’t really observe Chanukah while our Christian cousins were showered with gifts was kind of confusing, but I’m over it.

Still, you do make your attempts, and it’s appreciated. When we chatted on the phone the other day and you said there was a box on the way, I didn’t get my hopes up. I know from past years when you’ve bought gifts for me unsupervised that they have been a bit on the uhm, questionable side. The Comfy Pups foot massager being a rare exception.

Then again, I thought we had things worked out on my birthday last year. You asked what I wanted, and I said gift cards would be perfect—I even mentioned the stores that would be most useful to have some credit at. You came through with a couple of gift cards, and that was excellent. Great gift.

However, this Christmas you were up to your old tricks. But when you said on the phone that a box was on its way, but that it just had “a few little things,” I was warned.

Still, nothing could have prepared me for what would come in the mail on a quiet Saturday afternoon.

To put things into context, in the previous week, three boxes from Crate & Barrel have arrived, all from Nicole’s family. [Note: I was living with my girlfriend Nicole at the time of this writing.] These were great big boxes that were exciting to open. Even more exciting were the contents: wineglasses, which we are sorely in need of; and a wine rack, which makes us look sophisticated. I think there was even a mortar and pestle in there, unless that was a separate package. But I digress.

Anyway, I have to say I was impressed by Nicole’s family’s selection. Then came the arrival of your box, which it turns out was just one of the gift boxes I sent you guys, recycled. Hey, I admire your attempts to go green, so no problem there. But then I opened the package…

At first I didn’t know what to make of the glittery black and silver scarf, and gloves with tinsel-y cuffs to match. “Oh,” I said to Nicole as I began extracting the six-foot-long scarf, like a magician pulling an endless string of kerchiefs from a hat, “This must be for you.”

Okay. So then I pull out the next item.

Those Playboy slippers must be, uh, for me. How questionable.

But they didn’t fit. So I was starting to think gee, you’ve sent Nicole (whom you’ve never met) a six-foot-long tinsel-like scarf and gloves to match, and slippers embossed with the Playboy logo and name. And me, your ever-loving son? Nothing.

But now I realize that the cuffs and scarf are actually great for cat dress-up. So I forgive you.


your son


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