I recently blogged about a letter I prepared for my niece to give to her at her wedding, a letter full of quotes on love. I also had a little fun with the gift I gave her, a Nordicware Bundt cake pan. I'm a big fan of cutesy bakeware, and when I'm browsing in the kitchen and cookware department of a store, these are the sorts of things that catch my eye.
Anyone who has seen the original "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" will remember the significance of Bundt cake in that movie. It's a movie I remember watching with my brothers and their families one Christmas, and even the men were laughing at this "chick flick." In the movie, when the parents of the groom meet the parents of the bride, there is some cultural clashing. The parents of the groom bring a Bundt cake, a novelty to Toula's family. When presented with the cake, Toula's mother goes through a variety of pronunciations before getting it right. "Boont. Bonk. Bunk," etc. Later, she notes that there's a hole in this cake, and when it is served, there are flowers in that hole in the center.
I printed out a photo from the movie with some humorous captions that I wrapped with the gift, instructing my niece to remember to put flowers in the center. I also wrapped with the pan another print-out that's both a tribute to the movie and practical, a recipe for Greek yogurt lemon Bundt cake from The Food Librarian. I also made note that this blogger has a collection of 29 other Bundt cake recipes.
It's fun to add these little touches, and it reminds me that some of my best memories were made with gifts where I spent less money but more time and thought. I know many crafters like to give hand-made gifts. I am an occasional crafter and have given hand-made gifts, but often, as a writer, I have had fun with words, either as the main gift or an addition to the gift.
When I was a college student, I often wrote short stories as gifts for friends or family for their birthdays. I'm beginning to think I need to revive this tradition. I also wrote poems in handmade cards to give on special occasions. These weren't usually Shakespearean style sonnets but light humorous ditties. One year, I made Valentines for several of my female friends. One girl's last name was Ballentine, so you can just imagine what sort of poetry fun I had with that.
The best memory I have of giving anyone anything was in seventh grade. I took metal shop that year. It might surprise you that I took metal shop, but the elective courses were in cycles of three, a different class per semester. Whichever cycle I chose would have included one shop class and one home economics type class, either sewing or cooking. Seventh grade was the year most of my family received something I made in metal shop for Christmas. For my brother Dan, that year, I made a desk organizer with a letter file and a pencil can marked with a hammered initial D. It was the accompanying letter that created most of the fun with this memory, a letter supposedly from Santa.
In order for you to appreciate the content of this letter, it is necessary to give you some background. The previous summer, our family moved. It was not a big move, just a move from one town to a neighboring town, but it did require me to change school systems. My brother Dan, who was a college student at the time, and I spent much of the summer packing boxes for our move and, while we did, we listened to a mainstream rock radio station. I was always very conscious that our parents wouldn't want us listening to music with too many sex or drug references or other negativity. One of those days, packing boxes, I heard the song "Bang Your Head" by Quiet Riot for the first time. I thought it was the stupidest song imaginable.
Most people would agree it's not a deep song fraught with meaning, and, perhaps, that the lyrics are a bit strange. I don't know when "headbanger" or "headbanging" became terms, but I was unfamiliar with either at the time. I understood it quite literally as instruction to bang your head into something like a wall, which really would make it the stupidest song imaginable. I ran to find my college age brother and told him about the stupid song I'd heard. Dan, being the family clown, promptly came up with an impromptu song composition of his own, "Smash Your Face," and for the rest of that summer, there were many spontaneous performances of the "Smash Your Face" song.
So, that December in 1984, my "letter from Santa" to brother Dan went something like this, "Mrs.Claus, the reindeer and I had a conference and decided you deserve this ... " I then proceeded to weigh his good and bad deeds and listed the butt smacks and the singing of punk songs like "Smash Your Face" among his "bad behaviors."
When Dan read that letter, which he did aloud, he laughed until tears rolled down his face, and that is the best memory I have of giving anyone anything.