My grandmother always gives the most thoughtless gifts. Last year she gave my husband a flashlight. Not a fancy flashlight. Not even one of those novel shake it to power flashlights. Just a plain flashlight. On top of that, it was broken, which means it probably came from her garage.

I've gotten a number of gifts-with-purchase gifts. Manicure sets that are dull as spoons. Umbrellas with magazine names on them. She's not a hugger. She doesn't even say "goodbye," on the phone, she just hangs up. That's grandma.

The Christmas presents are a running joke with us now. When my husband discovered the flashlight didn't even work, I welcomed him to the club and shared the stories of some of my favorite crappy gifts.

A few years ago I made a decision to stop spending money on my grandma. I was going to make her presents and show her that you can still be thoughtful while being cheap. I started with a set of labels and some sharpies with Velcro on them, with the other velcro to go on her refrigerator. The point of this was to remind her that once a year either my sister or I have cleaned out her fridge and this way, she could put dates on items and keep up with it herself, or at the very least, it would make the task a little easier when my sister and I got so disgusted that we broke down and cleaned it out again.

She hated it. She just looked at it confused. She's a smart woman, but even after I explained that it was for the fridge and to help her she still saw markers and Velcro.

This year I helped some young girls decorate canvas totes for their mothers with fabric paint and iron on decals. After it was over, I had all this fabric paint left, so I bought a 97 cent tote from Walmart and set to town decorating it for my grandmother.


And now finally to the point of the post. If you purchase a 97 cent tote from Walmart, it probably isn't canvas. You should look at the label.


Merry Christmas, Grandma.