CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Some gifts are simply impossible to top.
But that hasn't stopped me from trying.
When I was growing up, I was one of those kids who loved the macabre. I adored "Chiller Theater" and scary comic books and Stephen King novels.
And I also loved turtles.
My brother and I had several box turtles as pets, as well as a few red-eared sliders. So, along with my scary stories, when I was in grade school and middle, I collected anything and everything turtle-related.
And so it came to be that my mom was out walking in the woods one day with their dogs, way back then, when she came across a dead turtle. Except the turtle wasn't merely dead, it was skeletal. Its bones bleached white from the sun.
Mom continued her walk, but kept thinking about those bones all the way home. It wasn't until a few hours later, when the subject of Christmas shopping came up, that a use for those bones occurred to her.
And it was one of those ideas that she said made it hard for her to stop giggling.
The next day, Mom returned to the woods and gathered all the tiny turtle bones and shell parts into a box, which she carried home and hid until Christmas.
Prior to gift-wrapping the box for her turtle-loving daughter, she wrote a few words on top and a few more inside.
On top: "Build Your Own Turtle Kit."
Inside: "Just add meat."
Over the years, Mom's gift has become something of a legend in our family. Although she cringes when I tell the story in public, it's the perfect indicator of not only my mother's delightfully weird sense of humor, but also something of an explanation for why I turned out so quirky.