Friday, September 9, 2011

NFB

There are two random things swirling around in my head: (1) My niece Prada started college this week. (2) My grandma used to write checks for us for Christmas, and on my brother’s, in the memo spot, it always said “NFB.”

I swear, these two thoughts are very related.

First, the checks. We would get checks for Christmas, and they were in small little stockings, hanging over the fireplace at my grandparents’ house. It was generally understood that they were for the down payment on a house, the college fund, or in my case, the high school—college—down payment on a house fund. My sister’s memo and my memo always said Merry Christmas! (at least, from the time I could remember—I would have been about five and my sister would have been 21). My brother’s always said NFB.

Have you guessed yet? NFB = Not For Beer. My brother, away from home starting at age 17 at the Air Force Academy. Even after he turned 21, it remained a family joke, and his checks always had NFB written on them. My brother would always look at it, thank my grandma and grandpa, give them kisses, and then say, “Not for books, right, I promise NOT to spend any money on books!” My grandma would faux pull out her hair and my grandpa would shake his head, while my grandma gave my brother a faux lecture on beer. It was all in good fun.

Fast forward to July of this year, when I went to Prada’s graduation party. I still can’t believe that the tiny squishy niece my sister and brother in law brought home from the hospital and plopped in my 8 year old arms is almost 19 and at college. She’s taller than me. She is beautiful and kind and wonderful. She’s my niece, but she’s also like my sister.

Anyways, my mother has taken up knitting stuffed animals. Vor and I have a veritable menagerie for le bebe Hershey—giraffe X2, elephant, turtle, fish, owl, bird, mouse, pig, lion, and monkey. We also have a teddy bear. So I go into to my sister’s scrap book room to drop off Prada’s graduation present

(a very entertaining present, by the way. I made a list of everything I could remember running out to a store to get at an ungodly hour because I ran out or no one had or it was vitally important that I have a back up, etc. This resulted in a very big bag of individually wrapped presents: umbrella, blank notes with envelopes, thank you notes, post it notes, tape, staples and a stapler, hole punch, storage cubes, expandable file folders, highlighters, flashlight and batteries, and so on and so on. I also had a list in there of things to remember—ALWAYS keep a pair of slippers under your bed and a very warm LONG bathrobe nearby, because we live in Buffalo and you never know who is going to burn popcorn at 2 am in the DEAD OF WINTER and set off the fire alarm.)

AHEM … into to my sister’s scrap book room to drop off Prada’s graduation present, and I see a little knitted stuffed teddy bear sticking up out of a bag. I recognize it as one of my mother’s knit jobs, so I take a peek, and there he is, and darling and purple and white, the colors of Prada’s new university. He is knitted to make it look like he is wearing a varsity jacket, and it is TOO CUTE. Attached to his hand is a small envelope, so because I am nosy and inappropriate, I also take a peek. I know my parents gave her money that is going directly to her account at the bookstore, and they plan to cover her textbooks for college. I peek.

There’s the check to Prada, and in the memo line it says NFB.

I cried.

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