the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

My Mother is a Giving Person


Nick Douglas of Blogebrity’s kind mention of my mother made me think about how wonderful my mother is as a person.  She is probably the most giving person I know.

Maybe too giving. 

Mom, this is for you.


My Mother is a Giving Person
A Post in Three Chapters
by Neil Kramer

Chapter 1

My Mother Gives Away a Sweater

My mother owns an ugly plaid sweater.   When Sophia and I were in New York last month, Sophia politely told my mother that the sweater was nice.  When we returned back to Los Angeles, we discovered the god-awful sweater sitting in Sophia’s suitcase.  Sophia called my mother and asked why.

My mother answered, “Because you liked it so much.”

Chapter 2

My Mother Gives Away a Noodle Kugel

When we were sitting shiva for my father, people were supposed to follow the tradition of bringing food to the mourners.  Instead, we had constant guests and my mother was serving them.

The very sweet Adele Horowiz from Apartment 4D brought down some cookies for the guests and a “special” noodle kugel for us.   Sophia and I each had a piece and it was the best thing we ever ate.  We went downstairs to pick up some more soda for the visitors.  We then returned, eager for another piece of the kugel.  But when we walked in, we saw five new visitors, and my mother was serving them all OUR KUGEL.

Sophia and I surrounded my mother in the kitchen.  .

“What are you doing?” asked Sophia.  “That noodle kugel was for us, not them!”

“It was so good,” answered my mother.   “I wanted them to try it.”

I pointed to a huge pile of cakes, cookies, and candy sitting on the kitchen counter.

“Give them some of this crap!” I said.  “Not Adele Horowitz’s homemade noodle kugel!”

“That’s right,” added Sophia.  “We’re the mourners.  We deserve the kugel!”

I sniffed the air.  It smelled like kugel.

“I can still smell how good it is.”

Sophia peeked into the living room.

“You better keep on smelling.  Because I think your guests are finishing the last piece.”

Chapter 3

My Mother Gives Away My House in Malibu

A funeral, like a wedding, is a place to you see relatives you never see otherwise.  When we were sitting shiva, my cousin, Brian, came to visit.  He is twelve years younger than me.  He lives in upstate New York and I’ve seen him twice in my life.

While my mother talked with some visitors, Brian and I went into my room to talk and get to know each other better.  I  was flattered when I learned that I was a major influence on his life. 

“When I was little, you and your parents took me to my first Star Wars movie.  Remember?  You had these little R2D2 wind-up toys.  And your mother gave me one.”

“Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.” I said, not really remembering these toys at all.  “That’s great, just great.”

He told me that after the movie, Star Wars became the center of his life.  He saw every movie and became a major collector of Star Wars memorabilia.  He said he made a good amount of money buying and selling these collectibles on Ebay. 

“I’m glad I got you started!” I said, laughing.

“Oh, I’ve had even better luck with your comic books and baseball cards,” he said.

“What do you mean?” I asked, suddenly confused.

“Didn’t you know?  I once came visiting when you were in college.  Your mother gave me all of your comic books and baseball cards.”

“She did?”

I always wondered what happened to my comics and baseball cards.  Unlike my father, who kept every receipt since 1950, my mother threw out everything.  I always assumed my mother tossed out my childhood stuff when she cleaned out my closet.

“You had this one Archie comic…” Brian said, taking out an imaginary comic book and lovingly opening a page, “…that was in such excellent condition — I was able to sell it for $75!”


“Oh, yeah, I’ve sold quite a few of the comic books and some of the baseball cards.  But I’m definitely holding on to that Roberto Clemente.”

“I had a Roberto Clemente?!”

“Oh, yeah.  Mint condition.”

“What else did my mother give you?”

“Well, I’ve added a lot to my Matchbox car collection…”

“I thought they were still in the closet.”

“No, I combined our collections and won some contest for ‘America’s Best Matchbox Car Collection.’  I got $5000 from the Mattel Company.”

“I loved my Matchbox collection.”

“They’re fun.  But they’re not worth as much as that Lionel train set you had.”

“My train set?”

“Your mother said you only used it once.  It wasn’t easy getting it into my Honda Civic”

“I completely forgot I had a train set.”

“That’s what your mother said.  She said you called it “boring'”

“It was boring.  Who wants to watch a train go round and round?”

“I think it’s boring also, but trust me, there are A LOT of collectors out there who don’t.  It did really well on Ebay when I sold it for… well, let’s just say it did VERY VERY well…”

“What do you do for a living?  I mean, besides selling my old stuff on Ebay?”

“I used to do sales for a lighting company, but I quit because I was making so much money with…”


I yelled it like I did when I was ten years old and wanted to rat on someone.


“What?”  she called out from the kitchen.

“Mom, come here!”

I wasn’t sure what I was going to say to my my grieving mother.   All I could think about was the house in Malibu I could have bought with the money from my old baseball cards.

My mother entered.

“Did you call?”

She was carrying a plate of food, wrapped in aluminum foil.

“Oh,  hi, Brian.   There you are.  I was just saving you a piece of this delicious noodle kugel to take home.”


  1. bella

    Lovely tattoo Neil.
    My mom has kept every single report card since kindergarden. She can’t find them, because they’re buried amongst all the otehr things she’s collected, but she kept them.

  2. anne

    My mom keeps my stuff, and hers, and everybody else’s. She’ll give it away, too. She’s one big paradox…

  3. Pearl

    Sheer brilliance.

    But Neil, after discovering you plotted your “price tag on penis” post with Sophia, I never know with some of your posts just HOW MUCH to believe.

    But I do believe you have a wonderful mom.

  4. ashbloem

    So much love, yet so much simmering frustration. Ah, moms. I don’t know how they manage to incite that perfect balance.

    Classic. Love it.

  5. ladymathematician

    My mama gave away the dog papa got me for my birthday, if that makes you feel any better about your Malibu beachhouse that never has been. yet!

  6. jenny

    So it sounds like you are indirectly responsible for making your cousin a social cripple.

    Your mother set you free from the bonds of material wealth, don’t you get it? You’re so much richer now.

  7. M.A.

    Now, Neil, would a house in malibu give you something to write about?

    Oh. Maybe it would. Sorry about your stuff.

  8. ekramer

    it is better to give then to receive.

  9. LisaBinDaCity

    I LOVE your Mom!!!

    And if it makes you feel any better, my Mom gave away vintage Barbie stuff in mint condition and my original Monkees albums 😉

  10. helen

    Gee, can I come visit your mom if I ever come to the States?

  11. Tim

    That bitch! I mean, you have a lovely mother.

  12. La Dauphine

    HA! My mother signed away a family-owned ISLAND in the Philippines to some cousins of hers. WHAT ABOUT ME? Hello – The Four Seasons Cebu would’ve been a money cow!!

  13. Tovah

    Your mom sounds kinda like my mom. Gotta love them. She sounds like a person trying to do the right thing but giving you the shaft in the process. How do they do that?

  14. Leesa

    My mother gave my cat away once while I was at school. I was traumatized, she thought nothing of it!
    I did eventually get the cat back 🙂

  15. Elvira Black

    Comic books, schmomic books. Giving away your kugel though–that’s harsh.

  16. mrsmogul

    I like the work KUGEL, it should replace GOOGLE. My mom likes to give me stuff, too bad she stopped giving me what really counts….MONEY!

  17. Alecia

    Thanks Mom!

  18. amanda

    aw, man. i was so ready to move into that house in malibu, also. and i was going to bring my albums for all your baseball cards. damn. (actually my cousin has a huge sheet of uncut vintage baseball cards framed in his sons room. we can steal it and sell it to exact revenge on your cousin, because you know, all cousins are in that cousin society so an act of revenge against one is an act of revenge against them all.)

  19. Marisa

    Someone fed me noodle kugel as a small child, and for years after that, the memory of it fueled many a food craving.

  20. modigli

    Hilarious! I feel for you, Neil! My mom sold my beloved record collection in a garage sale back in the 80’s with a bunch of other childhood memories. I came home and it was all GONE!

  21. Elizabeth

    Absolutely. Brilliant.

    Brilliant. And sad. So very, very sad.

  22. Melanie

    My fiance’s mother threw away the Ewok Village that belonged to him and his brother. That thing would have made us a nice down payment on a decent house if she hadn’t pitched it!

    Luckily, I’m too much of a packrat for my mother to even begin to get near my old stuff…I’m carefully guarding my vintage Playmobil, watching it climb up the price ranks on eBay….

  23. Sandra

    I sympathize with Sophia re: the ugly shirt. When I was in college, we took a family vacation in northern Michigan and my grandparents came up for a weekend. I told my grandma that I really liked her shirt. The next day, she gave me an identical shirt (so cute – she’d gone to buy one for me) and gave my brother $50. I felt too guilty to toss it, so it sat at the bottom of a drawer for several years.

  24. Jack

    I have a huge list of things my parents gave away but the docs said not to think about these things because my imaginary friends only visit when I am upset.

  25. Tatyana

    When my son was little, I witnessed the “sharing lessons” my mom was giving him.

    -Is that your yellow truck on a carpet?
    -Whose grandson are you?
    -If you’re mine, than what’s yours is mine too, right?
    -So give me my truck, please.

    It took him 2 full years, till he was 5, to be able to poke holes in that logic.

  26. ms. sizzle

    ha ha ha. that’s so sad! who knew (back then) that ebay would boom and people could live off selling other people’s “crap.” *sigh*

    that is way worse than when my mom sold our 1969 red mustang for $500 or sold all the furniture she promised we could have at her moving sale. you totally win.

  27. Heather

    That’s so wrong, Neil. I’m really hoping it’s not true…

    My mom just literally threw all of my stuff away which has given me a packrat complex where I keep EVERYTHING…

  28. Laura

    I am laughing so hard at this post!!! Is that your tattoo?

  29. Bad Maria

    ow, ow, ow, ow,….this is so painfully true (you should ask my husband whatever happened to his baseball glove that he had signed by Mickey Mantle…)

  30. -RM

    That is what mom’s do…they do it to us all, my heart goes out to you. Neil, my heart really goes out to you.

  31. Dan

    No witty banter – this was just a great post.

  32. 3rdtimesacharm( 3T )

    Bless her generous heart! Such a caring and giving lady. What a lucky guy you are to have her as your mom.


  33. jamy

    Hilarious as always.

    True story: when my dad left home c.1950, his mom gave away all his old comic books and baseball cards, which would have been from the ’30s and ’40s. We’re talking Batman, Superman, etc.

    When he got back from the army, around 1956, he left his uniform in a locked duffle bag in the attic. The army says you must keep your uniform for 6 years after leaving the serivce while you are still in the reserves.

    Less than a year later he came home for a visit and saw his nephews running around wearing bits of his uniform.

    He never figured out how grandma picked that lock.

  34. mcaryeh

    Classic! Are you this funny in real life?

  35. akaky

    All of which may be true, Neil, but remember, you’ve still got Sophia sideways sort of, and what does your cousin have? Collections of your old stuff, which you would probably have thrown out in 1985 anyway, and, if he’s lucky, an ugly hooker in a Chewbacca costume twice a month. So your mom was doing you a favor, in her own special way, by recycling your stuff to those people who would appreciate it more than you did. I mean, let’s face it, if your cousin hadnt told you how valuable all your old junk was, would you have kept it around the house? Would Sophia allow you to indulge your taste for baseball cards, especially the one with Billy Martin giving every kid in America who collects the things the finger? Think of Mom as the sun shining on a dank pool of water, evaporating the water and leaving the sludge behind to bake in the sunlight, the water lifted into the air and then to fall as rain somewhere else a few weeks later, bringing for new life where there was none before. It is all part of Nature’s plan, Neil, so do not castigate Mom: go with the flow of things and you will be one with the Tao…on the other hand, giving your lame ass cousin the last piece of kugel at your father’s shiva was a pretty shitty thing to do…

  36. Alissa

    For each of the four kids my mom packed up boxes of collectibles from our childhood (writings, drawings, photos etc…) and placed them in the moving van with the rest of our belongings on the day we moved out. I guess sentimental trinkets don’t mean that much to her!

  37. He's Dead, Jim!

    My mom threw away everything except for those things that had sentimental value. Long after my grandmother died, during my sister’s baby shower she received, wrapped and from “my grandmother,” a hand-knitted afghan that my mother had saved for all of those years.

  38. Denise

    What is it with mothers and giving things away when you’re not around??? My mom does it, too, but I thought it was limited to her. Must be something in the union or something.

  39. Marie Soloman

    The same thing happened to me. Except for it was this ugly naked black women light thingie. I told my boyfriends mom it was interesting, and next thing I know she would not let me leave the house without it!

  40. chantel

    My mom pawned everything. We were poor, she was a drug addict; it happens. When she died my sisters and I fought over what we didn’t want.
    “No you take it”
    “I don’t want it”
    “You take it”
    etc. etc.

    It’s actually very funny because what wasn’t worth anything at a pawn shop; she saved. Old match books, old welfare ID cards from the 70’s and pieces to repair her bong in case of emergency.

    Your Mom is hilarious.

  41. Brooke

    My mom doesn’t give away my stuff – she gives away her stuff – to the point that she is making my brothers and me insane. This year alone she has given handblown glass goblets from Venice to the housekeeper, a beautiful complete bedroom set to the carpet cleaner, and a brand new stationary bike to the handyman. She also gave the contents of her Boca place and a car to my brother who makes six figures. I have taken to hiding her antiques so she won’t give my future house down payment to the paper boy.

  42. Megan

    My mom is so the Catholic version of your mom. We gotta get them together; I bet they’d be the best of friends.

    If you come out to California sometime soon, Mrs. Kramer, my mom can show you around (but I’m locking up my stuff, first).

  43. schuey

    Giggling like a 6 year old, I spilled most of my beer on my screen. Do I really have to thank you ?

  44. Jacynth

    I can’t believe he didn’t even offer you some of the profits!

  45. Melissa

    I have the Italian version of your mother… so, so sorry… “What do you mean you gave Mrs. K the rest of the cannoli???? Have you lost your mind? Was chocolate not involved??? Do I not have dominant rights to all things chocolate?????”

    And the list of things that have disappeared gets bigger and bigger…

  46. Nancy French

    I love her!

  47. darlin nikki

    yes! in a total reversal, i’m selling all of my mom’s childhood items on ebay. 🙂 and have gotten some serious cash$$$. but she’s parting with it willingly so the story isn’t as exciting. doh!

  48. Atomic Bombshell

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I love your mom.

  49. Babes

    This is hilarious. I am a Mom too… and give all i can to some others who would not have what we have… and i find your Mom as a picture of myself… now ilaugh at myself as i laugh at her… honey, i love your mom… now my actions are justified!

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