Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Deck my ears with...

As I was writing about my Mother's oh-so-lavish birthday present, I was reminded of presents past. Having been around forty years now, I've gotten lots of presents from friends and relatives. Some were wonderful, some were awful and some were unidentifiable. It's when I received something in that last category that I suffered a little embarrassment.

Long ago and far away in a land I like to call my first marriage, I was a military wife. Because of my husband's rank, it fell to me to do things like have coffees, host parties and help out the wives of the younger soldiers in his platoon. Granted, I was younger than many of the wives I was supposed to be helping, but it was my job nonetheless. I worked pretty hard at doing what a military wife should do and I honestly loved every minute of it.

It was the Christmas season one year in Germany and my husband was being transferred to another unit soon. For me, that meant saying good-bye and moving onto another company with other wives and the same duties.

As a good-bye gift, the wives in the platoon got together to get me a Christmas gift. It was a very sweet thing to do and I was tickled to get the tiny package.

When I opened the present in front of all the women there, I hardly knew what to say. Inside there were six, small Austrian crystal snowflakes with a tiny hole in the top of each. They were about one inch in diameter and very pretty.

I had no idea what they were.

"Oh my gosh!" I said. "I love them! They are absolutely beautiful!"

I thanked everyone there and took them home. I wondered how in the world I would write the thank you card for something I couldn't identify. I took them out of the box and studied them closely.

"Aha!" I said. I finally figured out what they had given me.

They were earrings of course! Tiny little Christmas earrings. But, why would they give me six of them? And, why didn't they give me the earring posts to go inside the holes? Oh well, maybe they bought so many because they could only be purchased in Germany and if I lost them when I went back to the states, I would have replacements. And maybe Germans didn't enclose the earring posts with earrings. Maybe you had to buy those separately.

Not to worry. I had lots of tiny earrings that would fit in the holes. I promptly wrote my thank you card to the wives of the platoon.

"Thank you so very much for the lovely crystal earrings. I will think of you all each time I wear them."

I woke up early the next morning because I had to go on post to run a few errands and mail my card. I was mentally patting myself on the back for my promptness in getting my thank you out so quickly as I popped in my new earrings.

I had no sooner dropped the card in the mail when I ran into one of the ladies from the night before.

"Weren't those little Christmas ornaments just the sweetest things?" she asked.

Christmas ornaments???? Oh dear Lord! I'm wearing Christmas ornaments in my ears!

How in the world was I going to get out of this without looking like a complete hillbilly? My mind raced to come up with some reasonable excuse for wearing tree decorations as jewelry.

I had nothing. There I stood, with my hair all pulled back in a pony tail and nowhere to go. There was nothing I could do to hide it, short of screaming out in fake pain and putting my hands over my ears. I seriously considered it.

Finally noticing that I had festively decorated my head like a Christmas tree, she said, "Well that's certainly different." Which is polite woman code for, "You are stupid".

With no other options available to me, I just threw my shoulders back, smiled and said, "Everybody in California is wearing Christmas ornaments in their ears now. These aren't nearly as big as what I saw Cybill Shephard wearing on Moonlighting, but I thought they were cute."

As I walked away, I wondered if I'd run into her later walking around post with "Baby's First Christmas" dangling from her ear.

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