Of all the blessings I count amongst the many in my life, growing up in a family who loved Christmas is one of my fondest. Many wouldn’t normally count that at the top of their lists, but I am truly thankful for this. When I say we love Christmas, we seriously LOVE CHRISTMAS. The memories of my Christmases past are strong… some of the best ones amongst many that I have. I can still smell the scent of bayberry that erupted from the boxes I helped my mom open as we decorated the house each year for Christmas. That scent permeated many of the boxes and its source was small but mighty. I would carefully open up the tissue paper to reveal what was wrapped so carefully… two small compote-style glass candle holders, one red, one green, with artificial greens and berries around them. They were amongst my favorite decorations, due to the scent that emanated from them that I will forever equate with the holidays. This activity of unpacking the boxes spilling with Christmas decorations conducted year after year is permanently seared into my memory, as are the Christmases that were spent going to bed in a ski hat and gloves, for the bedroom I shared with my sister was literally in the third floor attic of our old stone home!
As my thoughts turned towards Christmas this year and I stood in my own attic, gazing at the written descriptions upon each box that revealed its contents, I felt that same memory-searing feeling. One look at the descriptions on those boxes and memories came flooding back related to the decor contained within. In another part of the attic are many other boxes containing odds and ends of our past lives. Elements that were important at the time but we no longer need have been stored up there, just in case we ever need them in the future. I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about! There are boxes and bins of toys with special meaning, baby blankets, Christening outfits and a few select items of children’s clothing that were just too dear to part with. But the most voluminous of all are the plastic bins and boxes of dog-eared, construction paper art work pieces, clay sculptures, photographs and papers of merit. All items of our past that we hold onto in case we need them for the future, or at least some of us think we will…
This little peek into my attic makes me think earnestly about all the objects we have purchased on our countless picking trips that we have then either spruced up or sold as is. My business has been built around these objects of the past that have been found in others’ attics, barns, warehouses, homes and the like. Objects that show their age in the beautiful patina that develops on them from the many fingerprints and worn edges that have been left behind by the people who once loved them in the past. Some of these objects pull at your heart strings when you find them, such as black and white cast-off family photographs, family bibles with beautifully handwritten recordings of all of the important births, marriages and deaths contained within its pages, well-loved leather bound books that sometimes contain memories tucked in between the brittle pages, gorgeous Christening gowns and young girls’ dresses, baby shoes and bonnets, tarnished silver pieces and beautiful chipped china that used to adorn the everyday table. Just as we pack away our items from the past in cardboard boxes and plastic bins, many of these objects had been tucked into the trunks of others to be kept for the future, but were never needed again. They were forgotten and then sold off by people who no longer felt the attachment to these things.
Generally, we have no attachment ourselves to the objects that we find except to the beauty that we see within them. Sometimes, though, memories come flooding back when we find an object we have not seen for some time that reminds us of our childhood or a grandparent, relative or the likes whose hands might have held an item quite similar in their lifetime. Isn’t it funny how you often remember people who have gone before you just by looking at an object and that incites those memories to flow? Whenever I see a demitasse tea cup, I cannot but help to picture my Nan in my mind who treasured and collected them. It is often objects that incite memories… thus the boxes in the attic.
Do we stash things up there because we really think that we might need them one day? Do we squirrel things away that we think our kids might need when they grow up and start life on their own in their own abodes? Do we collect those papers, cards, clothes, artwork, special books and the likes so that we feel connected to the memories and people we hold so dear in our hearts? Do we hold onto these things to relive, in a way, the scenes and occasions of the past each time we get a glimpse of them? Or is it a combination of all of the above? I equate a walk through one’s attic almost to a walk through one’s life.
Whatever the reason is for the boxes you find in the attic, may this holiday season be filled with the memories that are contained within and with the hope that more memories will be made this Christmas that you can squirrel away in both your attic… and your heart.