Friday, November 7, 2008

Things We Keep

Our Christmas stockings came in the mail yesterday. They had been on my mind for weeks -- do I buy new stockings or just make do with the old ones? Such a small matter, but I couldn't let it go. It became a thing.

I had made stockings for Trevor, Mosey and me before we had kids. They are cute, but not very sturdy and may not last long. I thought about reinforcing them and making new ones for the girls, but really I didn't want to put forth the effort. But what if doing so would be special for my children some day?

On the other hand, nice, professionally done stockings would be so much prettier, hold up better, and would be, for lack of a better word, classier. 

I asked people about it, it became such a thing to me. And most people said to make the stockings. But my mom said "Just buy them." And so I did.

And when they arrived, I showed them to the family and they were impressed. I meant to put them away, but there they sat, on the kitchen table. Trevor moved them to the couch; they stayed there, too. They're still there. I keep going over and picking them up, feeling the embroidery, looking at them. I can't stop thinking about the stockings hanging on the shelf that looks like a mantle in our living room this Christmas, and the mantles we'll have each Christmas from now on. I think about adding to the stockings -- will the store still carry this design, or will future children have different stockings? They'll show up in our happiest pictures, they'll cause joy in our kids, they'll be held in pajama-covered laps while each child waits their turn to investigate their own. They'll be loved in the way of something you know belongs to you, personally, but also to your family, for happiness, in a way that if it wasn't there, you'd miss it terribly. 

And there they were, brand new, the first showing, looking, meeting.

They cropped back into my mind this morning while Berit was washing potatoes and I was making frosting. The potatoes had been in a big white bowl -- they had already been washed, but she loves washing things for me and they were handy. I thought about the stockings again when I saw the bowl. It had been a wedding gift; one of two special pieces that our guests had signed in lieu of a guestbook. People wrote funny, kind and loving sentiments on this bowl and a platter, then the pieces had been fired and now we used them all the time. Whenever I get them out I glance at the phrases most visible ("The honeymoon's the best part!", "Eat, drink and be married!", "Welcome to the family!", "Hug every day and kiss each other, too!") and I smile. Sometimes I look underneath to the hidden signatures, and other times I wonder who the heck that person is, or I wish (meanly, I know) that so-and-so, that date of that guest who had too many drinks and was out-of-control at the wedding, hadn't signed it so visibly. 

And now my daughter was rewashing potatoes in it. I definitely wasn't thinking about that possibility when I put it in my cupboard for the first time as a newlywed. 

I remember when Marta was born, and we had all of Berit's old clothes, crib (that she never slept in), high chair and other gear ready for Marta to use. And a few times I thought, "Don't you know whose sweater that was?" "Don't you know how I found that sweater in a catalog that was way out of my price league, but it was the perfect shade of blue to match her eyes, so I splurged and she wore it every day she could fit into it?" And Marta wore the sweater, or shoes, or whatever, and spit up on it, or slept on it funny and made a wrinkle, and basically didn't care if it had belonged to the Queen of England. And whenever that happened, or happens, I think about how funny it is that we attach such value, such personal value, to things. 

And I can see how, if we never have another girl, I won't be able to give away a few items of Marta's, and especially not some of the things that the girls shared. 

I just had a flash into the future, of my girls reading this blog when they're grown, and laughing about the stockings. "Those old things?" Or maybe a yet-unknown child will say, "I'm the only one with a different stocking!" (Or maybe three or four kids will say that. Eek.)

I'm understanding, though, why my mom keeps bringing my sister and me a pile of junk when we get together. She's not a pack rat, and neither am I (my sister is questionable), but there's this stuff that she brings to us, and we laugh and poke fun at her, and say things like "Mom, why in the world would I want that gold clown charm for a necklace I wore when I was 14?" Or "Thanks for bringing me your tassel from your high school graduation, but really, no thanks." But maybe I won't make such a fuss over that stuff anymore. Because just watching my 2 1/2 year old pick wet potatoes out of a wedding gift is making me misty-eyed. Imagine the waterworks when I can thump a Rubbermaid bin of junk on my girls' doorsteps someday, and try to explain that that itty-bitty polka-dotted sweater was the perfect shade of blue, back when they were my babies.

1 comment:

Liza said...

Love your stockings, where did you order them from? Thanks so much for having us up to your moms. I hope your trip home went smoothly and that you will be able to enjoy a nice time with your friends. Keep in touch. Your girls are adorable, I am so glad I finally got to meet them.