I’m sure that every person who celebrates Christmas with a gift exchange has at least once been the recipient of some white elephant. If you are like me you probably have a long list of things that came from a friend or relative who would feel hurt if they knew you had passed on or disposed of their wonderful gift.
I will admit confessing to more than one unfortunate accident or lost item as a way of explaining why I was not using Aunt Sadie’s hula dancing hippo figurine or that purple enameled seagull brooch swallowing a large blue tuna from my best friend. But, that is not what this missive is all about.
My husband and I recently purchased our first house together and I have been unpacking items that have been in storage for many years. My dear Frank has been overwhelmed by the sheer number and variety of items I have accumulated. I have tried, without much success, to shrink the amount of plunder I have collected during the past forty years. It seems that many of the items I must make a decision about are past Christmas gifts and that brings me to the topic of this post.
Over the last couple of days I have been unpacking lots of large plastic totes filled with the decorations of decades of Christmas past. Every item has a story and most important, memories. Among boxes of childish school and scouting craft gifts are ornaments of walnut shells covered in more glue than glitter, with bits of yarn tied into uneven bows. There are Candy Canes made of rainbow hued beads strung on pipe cleaners. The creator of these jewels is now 37 yrs. old and collecting her own set of offspring treasures. When is it okay to let these gems go missing?
There is the moth eaten fur stole my Father acquired second or third hand and gave to me for Christmas 1963. He was so proud of that gift he requested I wear it to Midnight Mass every Christmas until the animal rights folks started screaming some fifteen years later. My Dad has been gone for years but I just can’t find it in my heart to get rid of that ratty old fur. Another clear tote contains what appears to be a mass of red tulle. It is in fact a very red Christmas tree made of nylon netting and covered in gold balls with a dove as the topper. The netting is limp and torn, the ornaments tarnished and the dove has gone from white to a battleship gray. It has been taken apart many times and washed, starched and shined but has finally reached the point where no amount of work will salvage it. Yet I can’t seem to toss it out. That poor pathetic looking tree was lovingly made for me by two seventeen year old friends who were high school sweethearts (now married 35 years) and given to me to decorate my bedside table during an extended stay in the hospital one December. That tree was displayed in a place of honor for many years as a memorial to my first born son who was born and died during that Christmas season of 1967.
If you dig deep enough into my moving boxes, you will find a small bottle of Lancer’s Rosé sitting in its own hand crocheted patchwork Christmas stocking; a handmade silky blue prom dress, the wedding gown I wore at my wedding in August of 1966, and even several boxes of personal items that belonged to my long deceased first husband. All of these items are well past their prime, have no current use or monetary value and certainly lost their luster decades ago; yet I continue to tote them around and take up valuable storage space with them.
I have a new husband, a new house and a very happy and exciting new life yet I find I am having a hard time parting with all the baggage (literally) that accumulated from my old life. Regardless, it is time to shed all those extra pounds of worthless plunder so I am boxing it up but I will find someone else to decide how to dispose of it all.
For all of you who gifted me with this mountain of boxes; please know that your items were appreciated, loved and had a good life, but now it is time for them to go the way of all good things. Your love and support will remain in my heart always and never be forgotten. But, it does feel good to lose a hundred and fifty pounds overnight.