Long-Legged Love

Our daughter was adamant about no flamingo lawn ornaments when they lived in Kentucky, much to our son-in-law’s disappointment. But after watching him tenderly care for her after months of aggressive treatment for breast cancer, I decided this man deserved flamingos. So as his birthday neared in late August a number of years ago, I scoured the garden departments of several local Wal-Marts whose selection of lawn ornaments by late summer was seriously weeded through. Finally, on the bottom shelf, in an out of the way aisle, lay a forlorn pair of pink flamingos marked half off. The only problem: their legs were missing! At that moment a shudder of inspiration overtook me. This was a gift that was about to take wing.

Hunting around a hardware store, I eventually found the right size metal rods to replace the flamingos’ missing legs. In addition to the rods costing three times what I’d paid for the legless flamingos, they were a lot longer than the originals. These birds were acquiring cachet. Amid gales of laughter and our daughter’s groans, the flamingos were installed in the front yard of their rural home for all to enjoy. Because of their abnormally long legs, any breeze caused these flamingos to sway crazily.  Occasional storms gave them opportunity to take flight where they would later be found roosting in ornamental shrubs and ancient elms. They somehow more or less survived three large dogs, a tornado and an international move to Germany, where they resided beside a small garden pond. Aging and the elements killed the first bird. When an abandoned dog bone was run over with the power lawnmower, alas, the resulting projectile decapitated the last remaining bird. Nevertheless, a tradition was begun of searching out really amazing flamingo gifts as an expression of our mutual love and appreciation for one another.

Over the years we’ve exchanged flamingo beach towels and shower curtain rings, an outdoor stained glass flamingo that hangs from a bird feeder now abandoned by the local birds, Christmas ornaments and a natural brush flamingo figure with thin metal legs. Let’s just say Kevin and I are both on the lookout for the latest and greatest gift to surprise the other person with…and cause  our respective spouses to groan yet again. My cheesy offering this year was an iridescent glass flamingo ornament togged out in a Hawaiian shirt making a yuletide piña colada toast. Karen threatens to banish it to the back side of the Christmas tree even as her younger son insists on getting his daddy a flamingo Christmas ornament. 

But Kevin won the “I Feel the Love” Flamingo Award this year. Here’s what I unwrapped to fits of laughter and sheer delight on Christmas morning: three legless Santa-clad flamingo condiment bowls resting on a red, white and green plaid serving platter. Wow! It doesn’t get much tackier than that!  Sometimes a gift is more than meets the eye. Gotta tell ya, I feel loved!!!

If you have traditions of sharing love in unique and humorous ways, what are they? Was there an event or occasion that inspired your tradition? If you were to start such a tradition, what would you do and who would you share it with? Did you receive a “I feel the love” gift this year? What was it about the gift, or the gift giver, that made you feel especially loved? 

PS – I have it on reliable authority that I need to be on the look out for the North Carolina Flamingo Flea, a pesky critter that attacks lawn ornaments with devastating results. My son-in-law believes his wife is encouraging the spread of this menace. Why am I not surprised?



8 comments to Long-Legged Love

  • Charming. I want to get something like that going with my son or daughter. Thanks for the inspiration and warmth. Love it. Happy New Year! Connie

  • Jack Schneider

    I’ve heard of a lot of “traditions”, but this one takes the cake. Loved it. For years We topped our Xmas tree with a “buzzard”. It was past on to a grandson as I’m too old and unsteady to perform the task. In that they moved to Texas last year, I missed our old friend but hopefully we’ll be with them by next Xmas and can once again enjoy our old friend.

  • Karinski

    The flamingo tradition continues to the next generation. Ian did in fact get his Daddy a solar powered Flamingo Lawn Ornament…..I wonder what will get it first….the 3 dogs, hurricanes, a lawn mower or the NC Flamingo Flea…. hmmm stay tuned………

  • Susan

    Years ago, when I was a contract psychologist up at Vista Del Mar Hospital, I was given a fruitcake by some misguided soul (Luckily, I can’t remember who), and the next year I wrapped it up beautifully, and gave it as a white elephant gift to someone on the staff. And, so and so forth….the wrapping got more elaborate; the occasions when it was given became more crazy (no pun intended). We must have shuffled that fruitcake around for quite a few years. I have no idea what ultimately happened to it.

  • Lynne Farrow for a friend

    an inspiration for all mothers in law

  • Sara Blackburn

    This is a bit gross, but here it goes. Years ago on a hiking trip with our inner city youth, one of our hikers found a rock that looked like a piece of poop. At that time we did a white elephant gift exchange with our youth group. The rock was saved from April until December where it made it’s first appearance at the Christmas party. The story of it’s finding was told and thus the reign of the “poop rock” began. It was passed around for several years, always making it’s appearance at the Christmas party. All were excited to see who would receive the “poop rock” that year. It finally, much to my delight, ended up in my hands the year that it’s discoverer was a senior in high school. The next year at the party it was returned to him and I beleive that he still has it. It was an odd tradition, but that’s how we tend to do things around our place! 🙂

  • Charlotte

    The first one that comes to mind was a vile wine that passed around for years, every year with a new and more disgusting label taped over the old ones. That wine got pretty chunky before it was finally retired with much fanfare, but no uncorking, when we all moved to different parts of the state. Then there was the Santa Clause plate, which appeared in random places and at unexpected times throughout the year, never with any kind of redeeming treat in top of it. We finally lost it forever aboard the Queen Elizabeth, on a winter cruise. I still suspect the staff of throwing it overboard. Or maybe they just envied it and couldn’t resist taking it home.

  • Sharron luft

    After our delightful years of friendship, Lynne, I have become a fabulous flamingo-spotter who sees the leggy creatures all over, and I’m known to mention my sightings to whomever I’m with. “What’s your fascination with those retro, pink birds, anyway?” they ask. “Why, flamingos are an ancient symbol for unconditional love. Here, let me get you one; it won’t be long before you’ll see what I mean,” I tell them. Flamigos have become icons of friendship in my life and I thank you for that blessing.

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