Now one might think that my mother had seen on the shelves one or more items that could be used as unusual Christmas gifts. Such thinking would demonstrate a certain amount of logic, and yet it would also be wrong. My mother had not thought of a way to add things to any present, and to thus create some unusual Christmas gifts. Instead my mother had considered using subtraction, as a means for making unusual Christmas presents.
As an employee of that particular department store, my mother was able to get a 20% discount on all items that she purchased. In other words, she could expect to get 20% off of anything that she wanted to buy in the store where she worked. My mother knew that the expression “20% off” referred to a reduction from the normal price. Still my mother imagined a second way to interpret “20% off.”
My mother had already told many family members that she could get “20% off” from any purchase that she made there where she worked. My mother then realized that by offering that information she had created a perfect way to give some truly unusual Christmas gifts. My mother considered giving each of our relatives a gift from which 20% of the original material had been removed.
For the male relatives, she thought that that would not be difficult. My mother immediately imagined buying a number of ties, and then reducing the length of each tie by an amount equal to one fifth of the original length. She had to think harder for an easy way to do the same thing with a gifts for the female relatives. Such thinking led to a sudden realization.
Although my mother appreciated a good joke, she could not justify spending money simply to create a laughable girt. She had taken that job in order to add to the interest that she would get, after investing the money left by my father. She did not want to dip into her limited funds, just so she could add a touch of humor to the exchange of Christmas gifts. Having reached that decision, my mother then chose not to pursue her idea for unusual Christmas gifts.
Although my mother abandoned her original idea, she still managed to provide our relatives with some rather unusual Christmas presents. She gave each of them a gift that she herself could help them to return. They knew that they could count on her help, if something did not fit, or if it was not the right color.
My mother offered our relatives gifts that would never require the recipients to stand in line at an exchange counter. She gave them each a gift that she herself could help them to exchange. Most people would agree that the willingness of a gift-giver to help with a possible gift exchange can well be seen as representing a most unusual present.