It happens every year. My uncluttered home begins to take on an entirely new appearance. Boxes of decorations come out of the closets in the garage and their contents are strewn on couches and chairs and tables and window sills and in doorways and from door knobs and stand sentry by the front door. Everything I touch makes me smile, brings a memory, gives me a moment's retreat into a place long gone.
It could also be said that I collect junk.
I love the discount aisle in the grocery store, transformed from now until January into a plastic wonderland of seasonal delights. They are always on sale, TWO FOR $1, BUY ONE GET ONE, the signs are not subtle and that's just fine. I want to be enticed, drawn in, commanded to spend a dollar here, fifty cents there, and fill my cart with joy.
My smile never wavers, except if I scrunch my mouth up into a thinking position as I try to decide between the purple and the orange and the black plastic shot glasses. Adult Cuters can be gifted with such items with impunity, and so I added skull wine glasses, and flashing paper weights, and 8" orange plastic cups with jack-o-lantern faces embossed in black, and glow-in-the-dark hand soaps to my cart.
"Orange and black.... orange and black.... nothing in between.... When the world is orange and black.... then it's HALLOWEEEN!!!" I repeated St. Chrysostom's Nursery School's permanent addition to our family's memory bank as I checked out, bagging the joy separately from the foodstuffs. The bags sat on Little Cuter's bed and then the contents moved to the shipping boxes which I closed with my holiday themed packing tape, and then re-taped because the fancy stuff was flapping up before the night was over.
There was one box for the newlyweds and one box for my big boy and I would have taken pictures if I'd known that this was to be the last one.... ever.... until I have grandchildren.... and, as she reminded me, she can't really do that before Halloween.
Big Cuter told me the same thing years ago, but I have moved from accepting his "please, Mom, no more toys!" to ignoring it entirely. He loves me. He never says a thing. I don't look for the stuff when I visit, I don't ask if he likes it, I just send it.
It makes me happy. It costs very little. I imagine them opening the items, one by one, "Oh, MOM!" on their lips and a shake of the head. I'm not the usual parental unit. I've come to terms with that. I am at peace. The things they love about me are also the things that make them crazy. It is what it is. I can be shaped around the edges, but the center will hold.
With love in her voice, and warmth coating every word, Little Cuter begged me not to send her any more tchotchkes. (Choch-keys in transliteration.) We are talking knickknacks, if you're Episcopal, souvenirs, small items of little intrinsic value but often great emotional significance. She understands all of that, and yet she was asking me to stop.
"We're grown ups, Mom."
I know. I know. I try to deny it but it's true. They have their own lives and their own homes and their own shelves on which my treasures are an unwanted addition, something to move, to dust, to take up space. My boxes bring guilt - they won't use the stuff but they can't throw it out.
I pouted. I told her that my lower lip was beyond the driveway and in danger of being squished by passing cars. She was unmoved. She held her ground. She made her point. I was convinced.
Still, I wish I had known that was the last box I'll be sending. I'd have taken a picture, for sure.