A couple of years ago…maybe 3 or 4 or more...the girls decided to play a little trick on my brother to make the day a little more fun and entertaining. You see, we have a cousin, Ann Marie, who I have written about before. Her way of thinking defies logic and has the entire family perplexed. You simply cannot reason with her at all once she has her mind set on doing something. It would take a book, literally, to explain all the things she has done in the past to set all of our nerves on edge. However, my brother is particularly sensitive to her antics and the mere mention of her name sets off all kinds of alarms in his head. Ann used to live in the basement apartment of my mother’s house, in her last years in New York before moving to New Jersey, and we all grew up together in Brooklyn. She is often the topic of many a family conversation.
Now after moving to New Jersey, Ann Marie started collecting pets. She is an avid animal lover and even though she had no income to speak of and health issues with no medical plan, she would spend her last dollar to feed her animals. And, even though she could not afford it, she would take in more animals. Last year we think she had three cats and three dogs and rumor has it the count has gone up. I cannot tell you the number of people she stiffed on rent and just up and moved to a new location; and she went into foreclosure on one place after abandoning it. She may have filed for bankruptcy too for all we know. But, she will use every cent she has to feed and care for her animals.
Now every year, at Christmas, Ann would send out a Christmas card with pictures of her animals in them. My brother never gave her his new address, so she would send his card to our house. That’s how this all started. The girls thought is was funny to wrap up her card as a present to him. Of course, when he opened the box and saw her name on the envelope he freaked out. We all laughed so hard, tears were streaming down our faces at his reaction. The following year the girls decided to draw pictures of the animals and I forged a note in a card saying that her camera was broke, but she still wanted to send pictures of her pets to everyone, so she drew them. I’m sure you are all saying, who in the world would fall for that? Well, if you knew Ann Marie, then you would know this is very believable. She really would draw her animals and send them out. She loved to draw too, so it’s not far fetched. I wrote out the envelope, put the drawings in and the girls wrapped it up. Once again my brother had his stroke and we had to tell him it was a joke. Another great laugh was had by us all.
Last year we knew he was not going to fall for any Christmas card jokes, so my daughters hatched another little plan. I went to the dollar store and got a cheap 8 x 10 frame. My older daughter, the photoshop genius, went to work. We had one picture of Ann from the batch she had sent in her cards. My daughter took that picture and put my brother in it, sitting along side, her so they appeared to be sitting together on the couch, laughing. We printed it out and put it in the frame. They wrapped it up and stuck it under the tree. In between all his gifts, they managed to hand him the picture frame. He had no clue what he was about to see when he opened it. I wish I had captured the expression on his face when he saw himself sitting next to Ann having a good time. He was in shock and agitated all at the same time. “When was this taken!,” he demanded to know. He didn’t remember the occasion and could figure out how old the picture had to be, since Ann hadn’t been around for years, and yet these were current pictures of the both of them. It really put him in a tizzy as the girls were crying laughing and rolling on the floor. When they were able to speak, they told him what they had done. I think he lost a few more of his little to spare hair that day.
Now this year we were in a quandary as to what to do. We have so little time now that the girls are both working. Everything has to be saved for the last minute. But yesterday I had an idea. My husband had gotten a nice, new 2013 calendar, with big boxes, like my brother likes to use. I said to the girls, what if there was a picture of Ann on every holiday? He would have a stroke and probably not use the calendar, but it would be funny. They thought about it as they wrapped presents all afternoon. Then they went to work photoshopping, cutting and pasting. My daughters have Ann Marie dressed for every holiday. For New Years, she has a big hat. For Washington’s birthday, she put Ann’s face over Washington’s on the dollar bill. March has Ann with a leprechaun hat and pot o’cats (not gold). April Fool’s Day has Ann with a jester’s hat. Cinco de Maio has Ann in a Mexican sombrero holding a cat in a taco etc etc. Just looking at the completed pictures made me die laughing.
Today the plan is to let my brother come in and get settled on the couch. I will offer to go get us some eggnog. While he waits, my husband is going to tell him he picked up this calendar at the mechanics and we know he likes big boxes, if he wants it. Of course, my brother will take it. We are counting on him flipping through it as he waits for the eggnog, because that is human nature. Once he sees the pictures of Ann he is going to flip out and we will get our Christmas laugh before presents. Of course, he might disappoint me and just put it to the side. Then, after presents, we will get more devious and manipulate him into opening the calendar. I will report back to this blog after the fact or tomorrow, and let you know what happened. Just the thought of it is cracking me up already!
Merry Christmas everyone!
First glimpse of calendar!
So Christmas morning my brother arrives around 10:30 AM and we are all ready for him. He gets comfortable on the couch and my husband casually hands him the 2013 antique car calendar that he got from the mechanic the day before. Of course it's been "doctored" up with pictures of Ann on the holidays. I thought once he had it in his hand he would begin flipping through it...WRONG! He opens to December 2012, first page where there are no pictures, and puts the calendar to the side. Now what? So I start talking about what nice pictures of the cars that are in the calendar and that we had seen some antique cars like that on our vacation. Nothing. The girls chime in. One says she hates the color yellow on the car for February...nothing. The other mentions a rolls royce...nothing. I mention that the boxes are nice and big, the way he likes them...nothing. Then one of my daughters starts talking about holidays. My brother says he gets ten Federal holidays with pay. He starts to count them off with his fingers and leaves one out. My daughter tells him just look them up on the calendar. Nothing. He comes up with number ten himself. Finally, my older daughter picked up the damn calendar and started going through it, commenting on some of the cars. My brother leans over to see what she is talking about and sees Ann's face on George Washington in February. He exclaims, "WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? YOU WERE GOING TO MAKE ME TAKE THIS TO WORK!?!" (picture above). As he takes a closer look at "George" he can't help himself but laugh hysterically. Then my daughter flips to January and he sees Ann on New Year's Day and gets the point! He flipped through the entire calendar. Each picture was funnier than the one before it. We all had many laughs!
The we opened all our presents. It took quite a while. Calendars themselves have a Christmas tradition in our family. Every year I buy my brother a pocket calendar as one of his gifts. It's been going on over 20 years. I remember when I took my older daughter Christmas shopping when she was two and a half, to pick out Uncle Vin's pocket calendar, and she looked up at me and said, "Let's get him a sophisticated one." Anyway, my brother gets to his pocket calendar and open it up. I jokingly say, "You better see if there are any pictures of Ann in there." He gives me a dirty look and then flips through the whole calendar...nothing is there. I figure I instilled a fear of calendars in him yesterday, but what are big sisters for?