I have neglected my THN family, so I will take this time to offer my sincerest apologies. I have decided to make things right by posting a Christmas themed Tales of the T-D-Dubs story. I’m sorry, but this story does not feature Sluggo, Cornelius, or Sebastian. Don’t worry, I’m working on another T-D-Dubs story with Sluggo, Cornelius, and Sebastian. Who’s a jerk now, Matt and Joe?!

This story is about Christmas and my Grandma Gus who made it extra special. My Grandma Gus passed away five years ago, and I miss her very much. Her Christmas legend will never be forgotten, so I am sharing with you some very interesting gift-giving tales involving my Grandma Gus.

For the first twelve years of my life, Grandma Gus did a great job when it came to buying me Christmas gifts, but something changed when I turned thirteen. It was like my grandma went to Crazy Land and never returned. She did very well with the rest of my family except me. I have no idea what I did to become the recipient of some truly bizarre gifts.

It was 1986 and I was twelve years old. I was playing basketball for my Catholic school and things were going well. My mom informed me that grandma wanted to make me a warm-up outfit for basketball. When you are twelve, you do not think too much about certain things in life. My mom said Grandma Gus was making a warm-up outfit, so I expected something that was my school colors, which were red and white, or something just plain gray. I thought it sounded like a nice gift idea from my grandma, plus I was excited to see what she was going to make for me.

Christmas day arrived, and Grandma Gus handed me a gift. I unwrapped it and was horrified at what was in the box. There were two hideous fuchsia warm-up jackets and sweats. There were two because my grandma somehow sewed the first outfit incorrectly. She was totally jazzed for my new outfit. I did not share her excitement because my fuchsia outfit was the perfect outfit for Elton John or a twelve-year-old girl. It was fuchsia and the picture below is my reaction to the gift.

There was no way in hell I was going to wear that thing in public. My mom demanded that I wear the outfit before a basketball game that Grandma Gus attended. I told my mom that was not going to happen. My mom had an uber fit and unleashed a diatribe on why I should wear the fuchsia outfit. I lost the battle. That’s life when you are a teenager. I wore the outfit ONCE and it became my lounge wear at home because I vowed that none of my friends would see me in that outfit again. My friends never said anything when I wore the outfit, so I’ll chalk that up as a victory.

I’m not sure if my mom spoke to my grandma, but grandma never made me anything else clothing related. One would think that would have fixed the situation. Am I right, Charlie Murphy?

One year later, it was Christmas and Grandma Gus had some gifts for yours truly. I don’t remember every gift, but I remember the very last gift she had for me that day. It was a small box and when I opened it there was a Superman action figure and a Batman action figure. I read comic books as a kid and still do, so it was nice that Grandma Gus remembered my love of comics. The gift sounds cool, but there were some issues. Serious issues. Both Batman and Superman were plastic action figures that had cloth outfits, but the outfits were not complete. Looking back, I’m fairly certain they were the Mego action figures from the 1970s. Chill out, collectors, I said there were issues. Batman did not have any pants and Superman was missing half of his shirt. Grandma claimed that she found them at a church rummage sale, and I wanted to ask her if the church sale was at Fire Island or Key West. Who buys half-naked action figures for a thirteen-year-old kid? My grandma. Also, who buys Christmas gifts for someone at a rummage sale? My grandma.

I have no idea what happened to the half-naked action figures. They may have been sold at a garage sale or possibly thrown away. I wish I took a picture of half-naked Batman and Superman so you could see the craziness that was my 1986 Christmas.

The reign of terror came to an end and I thought all was well. The craziness returned in 1994 when I was in college. I had moved into my first apartment with the infamous Sluggo, and my mom informed me that Grandma Gus had purchased something special for my apartment. I wasn’t worried for some reason. Christmas returned and it was time for my Grandma Gus gift. I wasn’t handed a box but a paper grocery bag that contained a paper towel roll, some noodles, and a can of shredded beef. The coup de grace was something called a survival candle. It was a candle I was supposed to keep in my car in case I broke down on the highway. When your car breaks down, you light it, and it keeps you warm for hours. I grew up in the Midwest and we have cold as hell winters, and I appreciated the thought, but I wasn’t in the mood for beef and noodles, a large paper towel roll, and a survival candle. I should have been thankful. At least it wasn’t a fuchsia monstrosity.

As years went by, my mom convinced Grandma Gus that it was a good idea to get everyone money instead of gifts. Grandma agreed and it led to a very memorable 2002 Christmas. My now-wife and I were dating and my sister was dating the guy who would become my brother-in-law. We all met at my aunt and uncle’s house to exchange gifts. Grandma Gus’ gifts were last, and I had not been the victim of any craziness in years.

My wife, brother-in-law, and sister were given envelopes with money. The envelopes were these generic red envelopes that our local bank used every Christmas. They were nothing fancy, and I’m pretty certain all they said was “Happy Holidays from your local bank.” I was excited to get some Christmas cash from grandma, but there was a problem. My envelope was empty and I didn’t want to be rude and say, “Yo grandma! Where’s my cash?” Grandma Gus saw that my envelope was empty and she was very excited. I was very confused why she was excited. Grandma was proud of the fact that I was the first person in the family to graduate from college. She was super jazzed when I earned my master’s degree in public history and found employment as an archivist. Grandma Gus said to me, “I want you to archive this envelope because you are an archivist.”

Say what? As an archivist, I archive historic photographs, artifacts, and documents. My mom and uncle worked at the local bank, and my grandma was under the impression that the bank envelope was of historical significance like The Declaration of Independence. It would have made sense for grandma to put money in the envelope and then ask me to archive it in the T-D-Dubs Archives.  I showed my wife and other family members the empty envelope. They laughed. Some of them thought grandma might have left the envelope back at her house and I agreed.

After I returned home from my aunt and uncle’s house, my grandma called to tell me she forgot to give me something. That was the phone call I wanted to hear and I drove over to my grandma’s house to claim the missing money. I walked in the house and was met by my grandma. She told me to wait a minute a returned with a loaf of bread. Dang, yo. Grandma Gus looked at me and said, “I forgot to give this to your sister. Be sure she gets it.” I get an empty envelope and now I’m the bread bitch. How did this happen? Everyone had an additional laugh when I returned with the bread. That was the last crazy gift from my Grandma Gus.

My mom started assisting  my grandma during Christmas and I was never the recipient of a crazy gift. Grandma Gus passed away in 2008, and I do miss her. She meant well and that’s what truly counts. I have many wonderful memories of her and I have an extra special place in my heart when it comes to the gifts she gave me for Christmas. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!

TonyDoug Wright is the owner and head writer at Champion City Comics, a webcomics and comic book community. Read his webcomic The Red Devil at Tapastic as well! He is also a proud father and is married to the coolest and most beautiful girl on the planet.