And she simply could not resist to include me--her nephew--(which is a funny word to begin with) in many, if not all, of the scenarios she concocted in the name of amusement. Now, she did not need the help of others to consider a particular work of hers to be funny.
If she did it and no immediate problems arose, it was a winner. Upon completion of said shenanigans she could just sit there and laugh and laugh and hold her belly and get the hiccups from laughing so hard, and then laugh some more because of that, and forget about what she had laughed about in the first place. Meanwhile I'd just stand there shaking my head and wondering how on earth I had fallen for that gag.
This one would have fallen in that category except that I had unwittingly turned it into something completely different.
This is an example of how, inevitably, the plain truth somehow, eventually, finds its way to the surface no matter how far buried we may think we have left it.
It is also a pretty funny gag.
A few years ago my aunt gave me a set of Christmas CD's she had burned that were above and beyond the usual holiday fare. This set included Nat King Cole's Christmas record; Dean Martin's Christmas record; Bing Crosby's Christmas record ...
... and Willie Nelson's Christmas record.
It's a great CD, chock full of classics done in Willie's inimitable style, with lots of thick, vibrant guitar work. Willie Nelson was one of the few musical middle-grounds I had with both my mom, and my aunt. He is, and will always be a true legend of American music ...
... even if he smoked more weed than Bob Marley. Neither my mom or aunt could deny that he was an example of someone who was a stoner and a well respected person. He was my go-to guy in almost every weed-related dispute.
Every year we would listen to this Christmas CD by Willie as the early portion of Christmas day began. And every year my aunt would remark how wonderful the record was. This was usually followed by the requisite question of when was my band going to put out a Christmas record and how there's plenty of money to be made in the holiday concert market. She was always looking for the angle.
Two years ago--a couple of weeks before Christmas--she gave me a gift:
Willie Nelson's Christmas Album, Volume 2.
She gave it to me without much fanfare.
I thanked her and put it in my bag.
I said I'd enjoy listening to it while I put up my decorations at my apartment.
And it stayed in my bag until well after Christmas.
I didn't talk to my aunt as much as my mother, and so it was my mom who said, "Your aunt wants to know if you listened to that compact disc she gave you?"
"Yeah. I did. Tell her thank you for me, please."
And she said she would.
Christmas came and it was a wonderful holiday despite the unfortunate health-related news my mother had been given at the start of November. It was while we were sitting at the Chinese buffet (where we had become accustomed to having Christmas dinner) that my aunt said, "So, you haven't told me what you thought of that Willie Nelson CD I burned for you."
And I said, "Oh, that. Yeah ... thanks ... it's a good one ... so many classics on there ... I just love the way he adapts the tunes to fit with his style ... "
And, of course, I was lying through my teeth.
"Uh-huh," my aunt said. "Glad you liked it."
And we finished dinner. We went home and opened presents; hugged each other and cried a bit; and then, when I woke up the next day, it was time for me to go home, and so I did.
And a couple of weeks later I came across that CD--the one labeled, "Willie Nelson Christmas, Volume 2."--and I remembered how I had told my aunt how much I liked it. I felt a little bad for lying about it.
So I turned on my CD player and put it in.
I pressed the big black button with the forward facing triangle on it.
And the first song starts with a few strums of acoustic guitar ... an acoustic guitar, yes ... but it didn't sound like Willie's guitar ... and, needless to say, it didn't sound like Willie's voice ...
(Please press the little forward-facing triangle below and listen until the vocals start ... then scroll down).
And track one--"Silent Night" from The Jingle Cats, Meowy Christmas played in the background as I dialed the number for Mattapoisett ...
It took a few seconds for my aunt to realize what was going on ... that I had finally put on the CD she had burned for me ... and that I had just realized what it was ... it was playing on my stereo, and I now could not deny that I had just been busted like no one had been busted before. And then she started laughing ... and I heard a few hiccups ... and then she laughed some more ... and I just hung my head in disbelief.
I had been caught in a bald-faced lie. She knew it. She had this lie gift-wrapped and placed under her tree by me, where it sat unopened until well past the holiday. And then I completed the joke, which I have no idea if it would have ever been finished had I not been curious enough to put that burned compact disc into my stereo.
And this is the kind of person she was: patient, crafty, thrifty, silly, and pure of heart. Not to mention she loved her cats almost as much as she loved me.
And I miss her so.
But as I share these stories it makes it a little easier to take.
She would have liked this one.
That much I know.
Thanks for reading.
PS: you can read all about The Jingle Cats here.
And if you try this on a loved one and it works, please let me know.
I'd love to compare notes, as it were.