A non-native but well rooted Vashon Islander and long-time friend sent us an extraordinary and unexpected gift last Christmas.
Cliff had previously bestowed on us a small tin of “Last Supper Dinner Mints” with a miniature resemblance of da Vinci’s famous painting on the lid, and, on another occasion, an Edgar Allen Poe hanging car freshener, which actually worked. To receive another marvelous oddity from him was not a generic surprise, but we couldn’t wait to see the specific.
Cliff is known for his large, generous heart and Yoda-like wisdom, his endearingly oddball humor, and his nearly astounding ability to discern the perfect weird gift.
Retrieving the thick Washington-postmarked envelope from the mailbox, Pamela and I were already smiling in anticipation of whatever it might contain. We imagined Cliff had been again to a certain favorite shop in Seattle, purveyor of a plethora of eclectic, humorous eccentricities. I slit the envelope open, and a slender cardboard sleeve slipped out. It was about the size of a fat pocket comb, but noticeably weightier. On it, a sticker proclaiming “Vashon Pharmacy” revealed that the source this time had not required Cliff a water passage to reach it. Evidently the Puget Sound cultural phenomenon had spread, and Vashon Island residents now support the oddity trade.
I drew the object from its sleeve, and stared at it, realizing what it was: a Christmas tree ornament. An artistic, creative, hugely funny, Christmas tree ornament. I was awed by the perfect genius of it. There in my hand was a five-inch long, red, silver, and black, stylized but identifiable, metallic strip of bacon. Through a small metal eye attached to one end a seasonally colored loop of string passed, to expedite evergreen hanging. Bacon with bling!
You know you have a good and understanding friend when you can thank him for his quirky generosity and tell him your intent to immediately re-gift the object, both in the same message. I assured Cliff that our giving the bacon to our daughter’s family would double the joy he’d already conferred.
You see, our son-in-law and our grandson are both serious, lifelong bacon-o-philes. Their love for the salty, smoked-and-cured delicacy runs very deep—deeper, even, than their common love for anything chocolate, vanilla bean ice cream, and pepperoni pizza. Pamela and I were certain Wes and Caden, especially, would receive the ornament with even greater awe and wonder than we did. Melissa, our daughter, might roll her eyes, but our urge to hang it on their Christmas tree was irresistible.
So, on Christmas Eve the bacon ornament passed to future generations. Wes was most admiring and appreciative. Caden declared it “cool” and went back to his new digital game, yet another Mario variation. Melissa not only did not roll her eyes, but emitted the most enthusiastic gratitude of the three. Three-year-old Kylie knows both bacon and Christmas trees, but didn’t make the connection. She smelled the shiny ornament and turned away in disinterest. Princess dolls are way more important.
But a tradition has begun. The nearly numinous bacon strip was hung in a place of high honor on their fir, and pointed out to visitors. Already, it has the aura of an heirloom.
Thank you, Cliff!
John, I love how you polish the ordinary with your tender touch and make it shine like a Christmas tree ornament.