the browning

22 12 2010



Things.  Lots and lots of things.  Her things.

Going…going…gone.  Sold to the highest bidder.

Sister Sib’s benevolent Nascar Guy comes from a place much like Butcher Holler where family ties are unbreakable bonds.  So when an elderly aunt was being moved in with her only son who lives in CA to be cared for through yet another round of chemo – Nascar Guy raised his hand.  He’d be the one to sort through her belongings…things she’d collected since forever…things held on to since her husband’s death some 16 years ago… You get the picture.  Two weeks working full-time sorting, tossing, donating – they were finally ready for the auction.  The vultures swooped in – left their dollar droppings and flew away with their prey.  Now the empty nest of a house stands picked clean and ready for it’s next flock to begin padding it with feathers,twigs and mud.

Hearing how someone had to come in and paw through a life-time of possessions, assigning values to each and every thing, got me thinking about the “stuff” of my life.  Until you’ve had to do a job like that, I’m not sure you can appreciate the emotions that bubble up regardless of whether or not the items are yours, a family friend’s or a family member’s.

It seems like things come in and take up residence in our homes alot easier than they go out.  Memories put a patina on things like layered years of fingerprints.  We sentimental types have a hard time sending our souls out the door with no one to voice the journey of how this thing came to be part of our story. Presently, my offspring seem to have very little interest in the stuff that has served as set decoration for our collective lives up until this point.  Frankly, I admire that about both of them.  They hold things loosely.  Maybe it was because in the chaos of our gypsy caravan lifestyle, we knew we HAD certain things – but we’d be hard pressed to know WHERE they were.  They are on their own adventures now, collecting trinkets that speak to their particular journeys.  So I feel like I want to strike while the iron is hot.  I want to send things out of this house like smoke being belched up through the chimney.  There’s plenty of tchotchke to use as kindling.

I’m thinking that I’d like to “shop” my own home this year for gift-giving.  Brown is my new favorite Christmas color.  Recycle, reuse, repurpose, re-gift – all wrapped in thick, rough brown Kraft paper.  Maybe I’ll host a Swap Party.   Set things out on the table – invite people in – and let them take what they please but it only goes one way. OUT.

A couple of members of Shop Girl’s backing band recently got married.  Being young hippie types, they mandated that all wedding gifts had to be used and/ or purchased from a resale shop.  I could single-handedly outfit their entire house and mine would NOT look bare at all.  I thought about an old oak table leaning against the chimney down in the basement.  It had grown too small and was replaced by a larger second-hand purchase.  I gladly bequethed it to a new nest where their kids would grow up laughing around meals, spilling milk, fighting over games and doing homework.  That table has no soul but stories?  Yes.

The table can’t tell those stories.  Those memories aren’t erased just because I’m not looking at the table.  I hadn’t actually looked at the table for years and I’d still not forgotten the times we shared around it’s gently rounded edges.  So I’m determining to spend the long days/nights of winter digging through more stuff.  It’s my stuff.  It’s my job.

securities and exchange(s)

24 12 2009

Yesterday Shop Girl wanted to stop over at some friends’ house to invade their space for a mini photo shoot with Donny Diva acting as the talent.  It is the home of a family bound by deep love that exudes warmth and is a visual treat as well – given the creative souls that inhabit the dwelling.

On the Eve of this special day of the year that our society has duped us into thinking that it is all about the number of gifts under the tree or a “love” that has a price tag attached to it – I was reminded that some of the best gifts are homemade and humble.

Lacey paper snowflakes plastered over the windows cost a few sheets of paper.  Just think of it – we can be boring, flat, blank sheets of paper OR we can get folded, cut, have holes cut through our middles and really become a thing of beauty.

a basket of hand-knit goodness…

and a star wishing a “marry crismis to all you.”

I was talking to SisterSib this morning about the transitional stage of life we find ourselves in as our brood now have their own homes and spaces in which to create special memories with the ones they love.  Once Donny Diva is old enough – we’ll have some special something that will be imprinted in his memory bank about going to Momo’s and Papi’s at Christmas, but not this year.

Can you remember details of the last ten Christmases or even five or three?  A few are memorable but some…not so much.  What about all those people in a panic at the Mall right now spending money they don’t really have to spend on things that people don’t really need and by this time next year won’t even remember that they got?  Is THAT Christmas?

What I don’t wonder about is the security of the love my immediate and extended family share…that is enough gift exchange for me – thank you very much.

p.s.  In case any of you were following the cookie mystery of the last entry – she found them.  They were in a place she always kept cookies when she made large batches but I had obviously not looked carefully enough to see them in the cupboard.  Oh, and I was talking on the phone to Nascar Car last Sunday when I kept smelling something like the oven on in the kitchen.  When I got off the phone, I walked in to find I had boiled the teapot dry!  Who’s crazy now???

nooks and crannies

16 12 2008


Yesterday morning I had a toasted English Muffin for breakfast.  It was right there in the package next to the toaster begging me to warm it up so that the butter I added could make little yellow swimming pools.  Suddenly I was transported back a few dozen years to one of the best Christmas gifts ever.

Living thousands of miles from where I called “home”, I began to crave things that I never bothered to buy on a regular basis.  “Must have root beer,” was the chant going on and on in my head.  I rarely even bought the stuff when I lived in the States.  But now that it wasn’t available anywhere – THAT is what I wanted.

Before ever leaving the States, I had gotten lists of things that were “unavailable”.  It was inconceivable to try to adjust to cultural shock and a new life on foreign soil without certain comfort food.  So in the dark corners of boxes holding our most prized possessions, jars of peanut butter and bags of chocolate chips made their way across the ocean.  I was planning my own little black market trade. 

I remember my first Christmas party in Spain with other missionaries where we were to bring the proverbial white elephant gift.  That game can only be fun if there really is something valuable in the mix of stupid items.  A recently unpacked stash provided me with just the thing – a nice big jar of Jiff.  There was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth that surrounded that circle till some lucky family suddenly had a jar of golden goodness to take home.

When we first settled in the city of Zaragoza, it felt like we were in the hinterlands. Four hours and a serpentine road away from Madrid, we didn’t have a Burger King, McDonalds or all the other places I came to eventually loath.  At the beginning – it just represented familiar tastes and a huge treat. On a regular basis we had to be in the capital and one of the first orders of business was always a stop at one of these places.  

Suddenly I found myself craving English Muffins.  I don’t ever remember buying them in bulk or having to have one every week but because they were no where to be found – I had to have them.  One of my fondest memories of being separated from the family I loved dearly and uncannily connected to perfect strangers who became my family – someone gave me the a simple gift I will never forget.  Through an arrangement with someone who worked at McDonald’s – he was able to purchase a number of English Muffins just for me.

It wasn’t too many years later that we moved to Madrid and by then Marks & Spencer became a place I’d shop on a frequent basis.  I had all the English Muffins my little heart desired…even if it meant a 30 minute subway ride downtown, crowds of shoppers and lugging my goodies back to the neck of the woods we were living in.  

So yesterday’s muffin just reminded me again – it is the thought that counts. And nooks and crannies are good.