Grandma's Gifts

My grandmother was truly a gift to humanity. She was born in Italy and immigrated to the U.S. when she was in elementary school. Her family settled in the small town of Dushore Pennsylvania; population, under 700.

She was frugal in the way that many elderly people are. Waste-not want-not. Right? Thus, she was more likely to make gifts than buy them. And there was never any doubt that the gifts were made with love.

Love is one thing my grandmother had a surplus of.

The greatest gift she ever gave me was a place to hide away from the world when I was a confused kid. I spent a summer with her shortly after my father died. Hhhmmm... I never thought about the fact that her son had died. I suppose we really needed each other that summer.

Being from the old country, so to speak, hers was a different life than mine. This sometimes led our two worlds to collide with a bizarre form of tender hilarity.

Take, for example, the morning I woke to find a tray of brownies sitting on her kitchen counter.

"Grandma!" I said with glee, "I didn't know you were making brownies!!!"

She smiled. "Now Bobby. You know if I was making brownies, I'd tell you I was making brownies. Would you like to try one of these brownies?"


"...uhm... no, thank you."

Mistake number two was asking what the brownies actually were.

Before going to church that morning, my grandmother had made a tray of blood-pudding. To this day, I don't know exactly what blood pudding is, but having seen it, I feel happier not knowing.

The second greatest gift my grandmother ever gave me was a box of homemade cookies. What made this gift so astonishing wasn't the contents so much as the means of delivery.

I was living in Bolivia as an exchange student at the time. Her idea was to give me cookies for Christmas so I'd have a taste of home while I was far, far away. Since she didn't know how long it would take for the package to arrive, she decided it would be wise to send a test-run package of cookies for Thanksgiving.

Oh, she sent them alright...

...from Pennsylvania.

...to Bolivia.

...by land.

I'll be honest with you, I didn't even know that could be done! I had no idea you could mail a package across two continents, not to mention through Central America, without using airmail.

Or a boat.


I never did receive the Christmas cookies. I suspect some mother fucker in Guatemala ate 'em, since, as you will see, the contents of her packages were clearly labeled.

The Thanksgiving package was sent to Bolivia in October. It arrived in the capital on February 25th of the next year before finally making its way across the country to me in March.

When it arrived, as soon as I saw the handwriting, I knew I was holding something special. I saved the postal-packaging because it was so hilarious.

From grandma!

Sent October 24th, 1988.

Arriving in La Paz, Bolivia on February 25th, 1989, though it still had quite a distance to go at that point since I lived on the opposite side of the country.

Of course, she filled out the customs form.

What?! Oh no you didn't just ask if I ate the cookies!

You're damn right I ate 'em!

Crrrrrrrrrrrunchy!   Crrrrrrrrrrrunchy!

Though my grandmother passed away a few years later, she will always be in my heart.

::::: | Wednesday, Mar 01 2006 at 3:44 PM
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J said:

I've gotten cookies in the mail from Canada and it took weeks! Unlike yourself, i decided it had been too long for me to risk eating them. Not to mention they were in a million pieces. You must have had to eat the stale crumbs by the spoonful! :)

::::: | March 1, 2006 5:28 PM

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