White September Christmas

photo 1 (8)At first, I was simply excited about the bubble wrap.

If you’re like me, bubble wrap presents an irresistible opportunity for a little childlike glee. Once I get past the bubbles and the delicate, tissue paper wrappings, it starts to feel like Christmas as I take each item out of the boxes and bags.

These boxes and bags have been waiting in my living room for weeks. The busyness of my life has had me tethered to the “must do” rather than the “would like to” list, and I have been eyeing the boxes enviously, anxiously, waiting for the right time to untape the box tops and see what treasures are hiding inside. The boxes were delivered by my dear friend — gifts from his lovely mom, who thought I would appreciate the contents.

With my own mom settled down for an afternoon nap, I sneak in with scissors and determination, and start the glorious task of opening the waiting packages. I marvel at the meticulous care given to the wrapping. I unwrap each item, stuffing a huge bag with bubble wrap and tissue paper. I carefully place each unwrapped item on the coffee table.

I feel like a giddy child, tearing into gifts from Santa. I am amazed by the treasure trove of goodies now crowding the top of my living room coffee table. Yes, indeed, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

If you know me, you know I love old things. I love items that have a history, tell a story. I love items that have been well worn and well loved. I’d rather fill my home with a hodgepodge of quirky, fascinating finds than walk into a furniture showroom and buy the prearranged, mass selected tableau. I don’t want what everyone else has. I want what someone else once had. I appreciate items with nicks, scuffs, marks of life. I often lay claim to an item at an estate sale that speaks to me, promising to give it a good home, a second chance.

On this cool, September afternoon, I am humbled by the items now entrusted to my care. My friend’s mom has sent me a wonderful selection of milk glass pieces she’s collected over the years and carefully cradled in bubble wrap for the trek from her home to mine. I am honored that she has bequeathed these cherished pieces to my care.

I have always loved milk glass. My grandmother introduced me to its white and shiny beauty when I was a young girl. My grandmother kept her milk glass collection in a cedar chest under the kitchen window. Together, my grandmother and I would kneel in front of the chest, she’d raise the lid, unearthing and unwrapping each hidden treasure. Proudly, she’d show me each vase, glass, candy bowl, pitcher — promising that, one day, these cherished objects would be mine. She was dutifully saving the milk glass for me, her only grandchild, keeping them safe and pristine in the safety of the old trunk.

As it often does, fate has a way of stepping in. A fire claimed my grandmother’s house and all of her collected treasures. The milk glass was somewhere among the burned and blackened rubble.

Now, this new/old collection of milky glass has found its way into my life. I sit on the sofa and survey the sea of white. I look at each piece, think of the sweet lady who has turned this cool September day into Christmas morning.

In my dining room, I clear items off of the shelves of our large, pine bookcase. I find a box and stash the bookcase clutter and make room for the new treasures. One by one, I move the milk glass pieces into their new home. I arrange and rearrange, add a few of my own things, including a framed piece of my Grandmother’s tatting. I add her brass Angel candlesticks to the top shelf. I step back and survey the milk glass in its new home. My heart is happy.

I think of my grandmother and my thoughtful friend — two remarkable women who never knew each other, never met, but shared an affection for the purity and simplicity of milk glass. When I sit at my dining room table, walk past the room, I’ll peek in at my pine bookcase beaming in white. I’ll think of both of these women, my heart will sing. My childlike glee will have absolutely nothing to do with bubble wrap.

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About barriepagehill

A former print and broadcast reporter, I am blogging to document my experience as primary caregiver to my mom, who suffers from Alzheimer's Disease. I find writing cathartic and find it helps me order some of the chaos of my cluttered life. My writing is reflective of my experiences with my mom and matters I find important as I navigate the New Normal of living with a family member tormented by this devastating disease. As my mom's condition worsens, I am grateful for the many blessings in my life. I hope my writing chronicles some of our experiences and documents this bittersweet journey.
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