There is an irrationality to the things I cannot part with. No, make that sentimentality.
The thinning of my photo albums has been so emotional that I continually postpone the task. It seems like Sophie’s choice: shall I save this adorable picture of Matt playing ukelele, or toss it in the basket because there are others? He will never be that tow headed and adorable again! He has a beard now!
It is this logic that keeps every closet stuffed. Every bed has an underbed bin stuffed with my kids’ pasts represented in plastic trophies, mix tapes and commemorative T shirts. Pat has put a STOP order on the donation of his books, although I did send his collection of Super 8 cameras and their bulky cases to a good home.
My attics have years of home made Christmas decor. I cannot imagine how (or why) I found time to create a themed Christmas tree every year when the boys were little. I recently completed a garage attic overhaul, and I was astonished to find that the gingerbread men cut from grocery bags, stuffed and laced with green twine in the late 80’s are in perfect condition. (add gingham ribbon, popcorn strands and cranberry and cinnamon stick garlands and you have a magic tree)
My villages did not age as well. The It’s a Wonderful Life village will never represent Bedford Falls in its entirety. The Snow Village suffered catastrophic damage. I almost suspect that a family member (Steve?) may have launched a covert operation to seek and destroy my clutter. That is why I was touched when he came home last month to find me with a raggedy old village set up in the garage.
In the 70’s, my mom’s hairdresser was taking a ceramics class. Every week she would paint a village house, and then her husband took caulk and added snow. My Mom bought a house/church/vehicle every week. Her husband then made a platform out of plywood, frosted it with caulk, added bridges and roads and left holes for the lights. The year I was married, Mom gave me the village for Christmas.
The snow did not age too well- it collected dust and snagged anything delicate. The platform collapsed or rotted. The buildings and villagers looked primitive compared to the glitzy Department 56 villages that were the rage in years to come. I have not displayed it for years. Yet I squirreled it away in the eaves of the garage. Surely my kids will not ever lust for it. I just could not detach.
And still, as I surveyed the broken ornaments and orphaned village pieces in my attic bins, I could not toss these home made treasures. I expected Steve to laugh and toss them. He saw my sad sack face and helped me bubble wrap them in their own bin, to be returned to higher ground.
I detailed the notion of creating a tiny Christmas Village outside, on the porch as a welcome to visitors. He didn’t say no. I must note that he didn’t say yes, either. After 16 years of sobriety, he knows better than to be an enabler.
This trip down memory lane serve as a context to the picture above. For 28 years, the blanket wrapping Henry has been in our home. It was crocheted by a listener for Michael, whose second born status meant he had far less new stuff. Pat was not delighted with the new kid, and believed that his status as King of the House meant all gifts were for him. At age 2, “mine” is not an uncommon refrain. With respect to this blanket, it was the law. Pat put his fingers through the crocheted holes and never let it go. His speech was immature, and so he dubbed it “blue nanket’. It accompanied and comforted him for years. Mike never knew or cared. ( He loved his white blanket to death, taking it to bed every night, then to camp so he could “smell home” and then to college, surreptitiously. I knew Mike was happily settled when his blanket reappeared in his nightstand drawer, never to be nestled into again. I have it in the same storage bag that I fished blue nanket out of, but it is tattered)
There are a few giant holes in blue nanket, and I fear that laundering it repeatedly would cause it to dissolve. I could not resist laying it in the crib I set up for Henry. Sentimental like his mom, Pat could not resist wrapping up his new son in it, and texting me the image. The Perego buggy that I fished out of the attic and scrubbed like a crazy woman held Baby Henry for an hour or so on Sunday, too. The past touched the future.
Maybe I am not a hoarder, after all. Perhaps I am just the keeper of the family memories. Instead of telling my stories, I recreate the past with blankets, buggies, ornaments and villages. It is less of an illness than a character trait. It’s why I have an attic. And if a Dahl kid should ever wish to have a Victorian Christmas, an ABC Christmas, a USA Christmas or 101 Dalmations Christmas- I am there for them. A village under the tree? Done!
On the other hand, if they want to grab the aquarium, the Sega game system or the camping stove….I have no idea what happened to them.
Filed under: Family