The Annual Whatsit Christmas Volley

I can still see it: Mom kneeling by the Christmas tree... her life-giving coffee sitting as a caffeine crutch next to her. She sliced open the narrow, flat package from our family friend, with a delicately painted fingernail. And it was then she withdrew... a...


It was a....


She held it aloft. It was.... a...

Wow. Um...

"What is it?" Mom asked finally.

Darned if Dad and I knew.

It was flat and crocheted in silver thread. On each end, it came to a point and from that point was a crocheted silver loop. That object had a conjoined twin, and these two flat pointed looped objects were secured together firmly by a shiny gold thread.

It looked like a poorly conceived bikini top for a Cabbage Patch Kid. Or two bookmarks tied together. Or really low-level nunchucks. Or the world's most uniquely non-functional Christmas ornament.

I recall my mother initially trying some clever reconnaissance techniques with the gifter during a holiday phone call, but it was simply no good. There was just no way to politely approach the subject of the handmade silver thingy without openly admitting we had absolutely no idea what it was-- and my mother was nothing if not polite.

The thing sent my mom on an investigative mission.

So she showed it to the ladies she worked with at the library. And she showed it to my friends' moms for their analysis. She shared it with the neighbors over afternoon coffee. And she sent it with me to Show and Tell. (It was heavy on "Show" that day, I recall: "Here's this thing. We don't know what it is..." And then me, shuffling back to my desk).

Yup, Mom even brought it with her to my grandparents' house 300 miles away, just to see if they had any additional insights.

My Aunt Lydia in particular was mystified, turning it over in her hands and laughing. Lydia was a creative soul with an eye for design herself-- but even she'd never seen the likes of this.... this Whatsit. She made all sorts of suggestions for its purpose, our Lydia did. But somehow none of them quite felt right.

Yet, the item made a lasting impression on my aunt. Because each time she'd talk to Mom on the phone during the course of the year, Lydia would ask if we'd ever learned what the thing was.

No, the Whatsit still defied explanation, we would tell her. Looks like we'd have to get Leonard Nimoy or Rod Serling on the case.

So next Christmas, my mom-- who had a bit of an ornery streak underneath that June Cleaver exterior-- well, she chucklingly wrapped that Whatsit up in colorful foil paper and a large tempting bow... and gave it to Lydia.

We got a call from Lydia that Christmas morn, talking of regifting and pledging revenge.

Christmas came around the next year... And we were braced for the silver visitor. But we got down to the very last gift from my aunt and uncle and... no Whatsit. I think it lulled us into a certain amount of complacency.

Two years later, the prodigal Whatsit returned home, wrapped cleverly with an equally flat pair of slipper socks. Lydia was hooting with laughter 300 miles away.

Mom determined the best time for the Whatsit to make its encore appearance was when no one would suspect it. So, in August, Lydia's birthday was celebrated with a nice birthstone jewelry set...

And the Whatsit.

So there the Whatsit stayed. I don't know if Lydia will find the Whatsit someday in some dusty back cupboard. If the Annual Whatsit Christmas Volley passed along with the passing of my mom. I suspect, however, the Whatsit is just lying there somewhere dormant, waiting for just the perfect time to begin its comeback career.

I wonder a bit whenever the UPS man leaves a package at my door. I mean, I get enough things for Christmas that I don't know what they are. A little closure sometimes... well... it's a nice thing.

As I'll be away for Thanksgiving, I will be attempting to post Friday's post from Florida.

They tell me there's wireless at the hotel, but travel isn't travel unless the unexpected hits you upside the head with a wet fish a few times.

So if you don't hear from me, it's not because I'm dissing all my Friends of Cabbages. I'm just drinking pina coladas and... er, no, I'm suffering... suffering without Internet access.




ReformingGeek said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

That's funny. The Whatsit being passed back and forth. That reminds me. I can't remember what I've done with the weird crochet pot holders my mom's neighbor made one year...

Anonymous said...

So you got a picture of this Whatsit? Or is that part of the humor: that we're supposed to picture it in our mind's eye? I hate cerebral humor. ;) Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

To solve the mystery, I guess you could have asked your friend if she had any more of those things as... the other once kinda broke while you were... um... doing the thing you do with it? And hoped she filled in the blanks.

Anonymous said...

I think we need to see a picture of the Wotsit - or at least an artist's impression! The mind boggles! LOL!

Anonymous said...

I think we need to see a picture of the Wotsit - or at least an artist's impression! The mind boggles! LOL!

Unknown said...

Reforming Geek- Hm, I wonder why some of the strangest gifts come in the form of crotchet.

Unfinished Dude- As the Whatsit is probably in the possession of Aunt Lydia at the moment, you have to settle for the semi-accurate illustration at the top of the post-- drawing crotchet and silver thread though is challenging in Word. :)

Tiggy-- Oh dear-- MORE of them. No, not worth it.

Jay-- See the illustration at the top of the post (the greyish thing with loops). I'm afraid that's the best I can do.

MYM said...

How am I going to sleep now? What is it?

You're a blog tease, no doubt about it.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy!!!

Anonymous said...

I am thankful for Cabages and Kings--one of the best humor blogs in the whole gall-darned blogosphere! Have a great time in Florida, Jenn! You deserve it.

I'm in Honolulu right now, but I'll try to have fun anyway! Haha!

Happy Thanksgiving from Hawaii!


Anonymous said...

Drowsey- The Whatsit causing your insomnia-- now that's a new one! :) Get some rest, dear lady.

Rooster- Ah, the hardship of Honolulu... I don't know how you stand it. We at Cabbages thank you for the, er, thankfulness! Have a great vacation.

Babs (Beetle) said...

You mean you don't know what that is?
It's easy. It's to go over your eyes to keep the light out when you have an afternoon nap. The loops hook over your ears - simple :O)

Anonymous said...

So you've still never figured out what this thing that!

Unknown said...

Babs- AH! Yes, well... that's as good of a guess as any, certainly. Actually, it's a BETTER guess than some we had going.

Greg- Nope, though I'm feeling good about Babs' suggestion. It's by far the closest possibility we've come up with-- though it would require testing. :)