My little mom (“Moms,” as my brother Keith calls her) raised five kids in less-than-perfect circumstances (ok, way less), yet still managed to put Joseph Magnin boxes under the tree for Christmas; it was the only store that would extend her credit. For those folks who are uninformed about Bay Area retail history, Joseph Magnin – related to I. Magnin – boxes changed yearly and were considered works of art. My 3 brothers had trouble appreciating this because it was a clothing store and, therefore, they received clothes for Christmas! Anyway, it was a Neiman-ish sort of store: weird boozy wrapped cakes available alongside big jewelry and dresses. I’m sure my mom bought the boys’ clothes elsewhere and crammed them into those boxes – she is renowned for requesting more than her share of boxes. Well, she is also renowned for boosting the occasional margarita pitcher and cute napkins at restaurants but that’s a different story.
So when Christmas rolls around she’s dead serious about wanting to know exactly what all the grandkids kids want. She is that dream grandmother: the one that doesn’t pinch your cheek and give you a nickel (that’s my brother John, the nickel part). She bought my nephew Halo, I’m pretty sure, back when kids were discouraged from that stuff (not like now where they actually market to the 9-year-olds). She has also gone into Borders Music and asked for CDs by Tool, Bullet for My Valentine, and Papa Roach.
These acts don’t discourage her from then chastising you or passing judgment on your enjoyment of said gifts. It’s a talent, really, the ability to give you exactly what you want and then be annoyed by your enjoyment of it. I hope to follow in her footsteps.
So The Son wants an SF Giants Melky Cabrera or Nate Schierholtz shirt. My offspring spent many hours not studying Science to craft signs they will hold up at next year’s Giants’ games…all those events for which we have yet to buy tickets. So I was not afraid to send my 79-year-old matriarch to the Giants dugout store with those names on a little post-it. My step-dad had googled the location and released her to the shopping crowd, knowing my mom, with her chin held high and a walk that could take down scaffolding, would find a Melky shirt. Nordstrom has a little asterisk next to her name, she has given so many upper crust folk the evil eye (they don’t throw ‘bows in those places). The result was this: no Melky shirt, but only because they haven’t made them yet (off season-signing), but a gift certificate and a bevy of bargains from the “nice young man” who helped her. She also managed to get an online coupon from the “nice young woman,” and a promise they would send her a link the minute the Melky shirts were available, as well as the Schierholtz shirts (ran out; he’s a heartthrob). Just in case, though, she called my brother John from the store and made him promise he would look for the shirts after Christmas.
I may just hand this story to The Son as his Christmas present. He should know when it comes to Christmas, Grammy don’t play, dawg. If only I could cram it into a Joseph Magnin box.