Wednesday, December 27, 2017

YaYa's Gift


Laughter is the best medicine. The very BEST medicine. I heard about a man who found out he had terminal something or other, and decided that if his days were numbered, he’d go out laughing. He rented every funny movie ever made, watched them all day long for the rest of his life, and when the time came for him to stand at the pearly gates, he’d outlived his doctors.

True story. I read it on the internet.

My favorite kind of humor is the sarcastic kind. To prove it, I plaster seasonal sarcasms all over our refrigerator. Right now, at the end of the Christmas holidays, you can find a magnet there announcing that all my friends are flakes, another that lists my emergency contact number as Starbucks, and—my favorite of all—a Christmas card with a depiction of Jesus’ mom, babe in arms, astride a donkey while her husband walks beside her. On her left, each riding their own animals, are two moms who stare down at the holy virgin in disapproval. “Well! If it isn’t Joseph and Mary . . .” one woman’s word bubble reads. Across the rear ends of the two camels where the women are seated are these bumper stickers: 

Our Son Is An Honor Student

and

Our Son Is In Medical School    

Mary’s mount has a bumper sticker on his hindquarters, too.  

Our Son Is God

“YaYa,” my young granddaughter, Allie, asked me a few years ago when I first put the card on the fridge. “Is that sarcasm?”

Well, of course.

“Oh,” she said, her forehead wrinkled, and her head turned to the side as she looked at me. “I don’t get it.”

That Christmas, I gave Allie and her little sister, Juliet, each a mini snow globe with tiny Disney figurines inside. They loved shaking them up and down while wet, white snowflakes cascaded slowly over the famous mice. Suddenly, Allie’s little globe slipped out of her hand and crashed onto our tile floor, exploding into a hundred soggy pieces.

“Hey, look at that,” I announced, trying to curtail the inevitable tears. “You found a way to set Minnie free!”

It didn’t exactly work. Allie still didn’t understand sarcasm, and my attempt at humor did nothing for her broken heart. I hugged her tight and told her I’d replace the globe. Which I did—because I promised and because I am the YaYa. A few days later I took her the new one, a less favorite version of a Disney figurine. She thanked me politely, and an hour later her mother texted me that Allie accidently dropped that one, too. This time Daisy Duck was released into the wild.

“Pretty rough week for snow globes,” I said. Sarcastically.

“Yeah,” my daughter agreed. “Better stick to the plastic ones next time,” she said. Pragmatically.

So, the next Christmas, I bought everybody one of those half-oval shaped plastic globes which are practical but not nearly as adorable. They were politely shaken a few times and then disappeared somewhere in the girls’ room, never to be seen again.

“We like the little glass ones better, YaYa,” the two girls said.

“Well, if I buy you new glass globes,” I suggested with a twinkle in my eye, “why don’t we just throw them onto the tile floor right away and get the breaking over with? It could be our new Christmas tradition!”

Juliet, the family comedian, exploded with laughter while Allie smiled in confusion and stared at me the same way she’d looked at the card on my refrigerator. “Is that sarcasm?” she asked politely.

Two years went by and I forgot about the hapless snow globes. This Christmas, Allie and Juliet once again brought up how much they like the mini versions. “I wish we had one of those,” Allie said wistfully.

Well, what’s a YaYa to do? I bought them each another one—the tiny, glass kind. The girls held them carefully as they left my house, promising not to drop them.

“Oh, don’t worry about it if you do,” I said. “Remember our tradition? Throw them right on the floor and skip all the stress?”

“Very funny, YaYa,” Juliet said, while Allie grinned and gave me that “grandmothers are so weird” look.

Yesterday we celebrated Christmas with the girls and the rest of their family. In the kitchen, I caught the girls looking at the card on our refrigerator. “That’s sarcasm,” Allie told Juliet. I patted my heart as I watched. She takes after her YaYa, I thought.

We spent the next hour opening presents, until it came time for the last one. With a twinkle in her eyes, Allie gave it to me. “I made this for you, YaYa,” she said.

I’m a sucker for homemade gifts from grandbabies. In the off season when the Christmas magnets are hibernating, the fridge is decorated with crayon love notes made of construction paper. I figured I’d been given another masterpiece like those.  But tearing off the wrapping paper, I found myself holding three ziplock bags, one inside the other, the innermost containing something runny. It was going to be a challenge to stick this on the refrigerator, I thought.

I began to undo the outside ziplock, but Juliet and her dad stopped me. “I wouldn’t open that if I were you,” they both said. Now my forehead was wrinkled. A giggle escaped from Allie as she shared a conspiratorial look with her family. That’s when I realized what she’d done. Inside the triple-stacked ziplocks were glittery water, a floating angel, and the broken remnants of a clear glass ball.

“See?!” Allie laughed. “You don’t have to throw it on the floor—we already broke it for you!”

Pure genius. I wish I’d thought of it first. She’s got a bright future ahead of her, that one, either as a multi-level marketing tycoon or the first doctor to prescribe comedy instead of valium. But whatever she does, I hope she gives credit where credit is due.

After all, I’m the one who taught her sarcasm.

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