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Posts Tagged ‘memories’

I have purchased no eggnog this year.

Normally, I would be on my second carton by now.

When I first spotted cartons of eggnog in the dairy aisle a few weeks ago, however, it just didn’t seem worth the calories.

Part of this attitude, admittedly, results from attending boot camp at 5:30 a.m. three days a week. I’m not negating that much hard work with 6 ounces of sugar and fat.

Part of it, though, is the realization that eggnog is simply a nostalgic food for me, a trip back in time to childhood.

When I was a child, eggnog was something that I drank only at my grandparents’ house, and only in the days leading up to Christmas. We drank it out of these fabulous Santa mugs:

As my friends Kristen and Harold have noted, however, nostalgia can be burdensome. I can’t re-create those Christmas scenes, and I shouldn’t want to. Every day of the year gives us another chance to create NEW memories. Trying to redo the past, even the little pieces of it, can only lead to bitterness and disappointment.

My brother’s kids are going to remember that Tia always made red velvet cake pops for them at Christmas, and Tia’s going to remind them that, for little girls under 50 lbs., they ate an impressive number of the rich morsels. And in 20 years or so, I hope they come up with their very own tradition, leaving cake pops in the dust if that’s not really their thing anymore.

I’ll give them the Santa mugs, though, if they decide that eggnog is their thing.

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I thought this was interesting in light of my recent post on aspirational clutter. While blogger jlsathre had assumed that she would end up bringing home most of the contents of her deceased parents’ house when she and her sister cleaned it out, she left with only a very few items.

In The Things I Didn’t Keep of Mom and Dad’s, she writes:

Leaving the house that first day, I knew that it wasn’t the things that remained inside that I wanted to keep. I did take a few things– the candy dish, a ledger with page after page of Dad’s handwriting, and an address book with pages of Mom’s.  But mainly what I kept  were things I didn’t have to carry.  I had found that I didn’t need very much.  I already had the stories.

Stories without things? Absolutely the best souvenirs you can ask for.

Things without stories? They’ll clog your closets and your mind.

Not every item that we inherit has a story, and I think it’s an unfair burden to think that we have to keep a thing only because it belonged to someone in particular.

Stories vs. things? I’m picking stories every time.

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Some lessons bear repeating.

During a visit with my mom in August, I “rescued” an old jewelry box from her Goodwill bag. I really have no idea how long she’s owned it, but she’s had it for at least as long as she’s had me.

I had plans to do a little renovation (the top arch is hinged and is constantly falling over, which seems to be a constant reminder that it really doesn’t belong there) and maybe repaint the boring brown wood a more exciting color.

I embarked on my last semester of graduate school a week after I returned to Huntsville, and haven’t had time to give the jewelry box much thought.

It hit me last week: I don’t love this item. I love the memories associated with it. When I was growing up, it was a permanent accessory on Mom’s dresser, and each drawer held a different treasure. A tiny gold bracelet that belonged to me when I was a baby. A large, exotic cameo pin. Mom’s class ring.

It was a mysterious treasure chest filled with things I didn’t get to see every day.

Without those items, indeed, without those MOMENTS, it’s just a big wooden box. I don’t even have a good place to put it, much less things to put in it.

Higher purpose time: One of my favorite local animal rescue groups, A New Leash on Life, recently donated $10,000 to Huntsville’s low-income spay/neuter program. The organization’s thrift store, called Market Place, made this donation possible. People donating their gently used goods make the Market Place possible.

As for Mom, she would much rather see her jewelry box sold to help animals than for it to linger on my closet shelf.

And the lesson repeated? Don’t think you have to hold on to things to hold on to memories.

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I don’t even know what to call this piece of furniture. Spice cabinet? Spice drawers? During its long tenure in my grandmother’s house, it was simply the blue drawers in the hallway; for adults, the holder of telephone books, for kids, the source of puzzles and books, pencils and paper.

I brought it home after my grandmother’s funeral last week, stuffing it into my tiny car along with a few photographs and a handful of handwritten recipes from the bottom kitchen drawer.

I asked for this piece long ago (my grandmother had been assigning artifacts to children and grandchildren alike for nearly three decades), choosing it over the fancier formal china cabinet that resided in the den and didn’t match my personality or decorating style any more than pineapple-topped bedposts.

Seriously, what’s with the pineapple-topped bedposts?

It’s in my office now, slightly cleaner thanks to a brief encounter with Murphy’s Oil Soap, but still bearing evidence of its age. Rather than puzzles and phone books, it holds the essentials of a perpetual graduate student. Mostly, though, it just holds memories, and I’m grateful that my husband maneuvered it into my car with mere inches to spare.

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My college roommate and lifelong friend Jennifer has always been the crafty sort. Whereas we could both always visualize how we wanted a project to look, she could actually make it happen, whether it was by sewing, painting, or just moving stuff around.  She can choreograph a color guard routine or a complete house redecoration with little stress.

We rented a house together for 1.5 years, and we had the coolest Christmas tree of all time. Jennifer procured a dead, leafless sapling that we decorated for the holidays.

We were all about the avant-garde.

(We were apparently also all about the not-taking-pictures-of-our-own-stuff. While others took photos of our tree of awesomeness, we don’t seem to have any visual records of it.)

Given her creative flair, it wasn’t surprising when she broke out the arts and crafts supplies one night and informed me that we were going to make scrap angels for our tree – one for each of us.

She also broke out the wine.

We were, at the time, given to purchasing the largest bottle of Riunite Lambrusco that we could find for our parties, drinking as much as we wanted during the festivities and saving the rest for wine spritzers (made with Sprite, if I recall).

I don’t precisely remember the scrap angel-making process, but I do remember a lot of pouring and giggling, an exhausting amount of pouring and giggling, and at some point one of us said something along these lines: “Why don’t we just make one angel with two heads instead of two angels?”

Genius, right? One angel, two heads – one for each of us.

It certainly seemed like a good idea until the next morning, when we awoke to discover a TWO-HEADED ANGEL ON TOP OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE.

I think Jennifer quietly made two angels to replace the polycephalic messenger we mistakenly manufactured – no need to involve the craft-averse again – and all was well and much less weird in time for our Christmas party.

I miss those days of wine and giggling. I even kind of miss the creepy two-headed angel. Maybe I have some old pillowcases I can cut up  tonight …

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For several years, my grandmother has been trying to send me home with items from her china cabinet. I think she’s always a little surprised when I pick out things like the tiny collapsible tin cup that belonged to my grandfather or a weathered aluminum cake carrier instead of fine crystal platters and silver pitchers.

For me, memorable beats fancy every time, which is how I ended up with these four Santa mugs. My grandmother would break them out once a year for eggnog, though I’m not sure how many family members actually drank from them, given their paltry size (they may hold 4 ounces).

They’re the coolest retro Christmas accessories I have, but most importantly, they store memories that the fanciest crystal glasses could never evoke. Best of all: no polishing required.

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