Friday, November 27, 2009
A Little Quote and A Little Note
"There must be more to life than having everything!" ~ Maurice Sendak
It is slightly ironic to me that we give thanks for what we have one day, then run out to buy more the next. I did have to purchase a few groceries today, but made my purchases in our local sleepy village amid familiar faces. I avoided the rush of "Black Friday" in the city, and steered clear of malls and big box stores. If you were in the crowd of shoppers (as my 16 year old daughter and her friend were), I hope the crowds were friendly and the bargains good.
For me, the day after Thanksgiving is my annual day to give my china hutch a good cleaning. I take everything out, dust the wood, clean the glass and wash all of the china. We used some of it on Thanksgiving, so those items were already washed and sparkling, but the rest need a good rinsing to clear away a year's worth of dust.
Over the year, other things collect in the hutch. There are little pottery items our children made in school art classes, a seashell a lovely young friend brought to me from her trip to Florida, programs from concerts the girls sang in, and little photos sent in cards and letters through the last 12 months. All of these items find new homes at this time of year. The keepsakes are tucked into individual "memory boxes" and the photos are tucked in amid those in a big disorganized drawer (a project for another season in life.)
In a few days, we will put up the nativity set that my mother-in-law made for Limerick and I as a gift for our first married Christmas, 22 years ago. It is a full set, with camels and camel master, a beggar, and shepherd boy besides all of the important central figures. It is the first bit of Christmas to go up in our house every year, and the last to come down. Cleaning the hutch allows me to clear the center shelf for the nativity. At night, through the holiday season, we turn on the light in the hutch and the nativity scene looks very beautiful, with its lovingly painted color and detail.
This annual cleaning rite, a seemingly mundane chore, connects me with special people in my life... to the friends and family who made and gave all of the little touchstones that have gathered there through the year. When the holidays end, and the nativity set is carefully wrapped in newspaper and put away, the collecting will begin again. New mementos and keepsakes, new photographs and poems written in a child's wobbly script will be displayed in the hutch between the simple pieces of my Grandmother's china.