They were probably separate Christmases, but they’re tied together to make one bloom in my mom memory bouquet…
We still live in the little four-room house.
I’m off on another hunt that takes me under the couch cushion, inside a chartreuse kitchen cupboard door, under the gray formica table, behind the toaster, on top of my parents’ dresser, and finally ends in the oven. I stare at the package tied up with string, and the fun fades. I so don’t want a turkey for Christmas.
Mom raises her eyebrows. “Are you sure it’s a turkey?”
Sure enough. Stuffed inside the bag, doubled over on herself, is a life-size, soft-bodied, dancing doll, with straps on her feet to attach to mine. I’ll take that, thank you.
I squeal when I rip the Sunday Funnies off the hairdryer box. It’s exactly what I want. But inside, is a pair of stretch pants. Orange and black. Not even plain black like everyone else’s, and I wanted to be like everyone else.
And no hairdryer. All I really wanted was a hairdryer. My eyes sting.
We’ve opened all the gifts now. There’s no hairdryer. I back close to the stove
that heats that’s supposed to heat the whole house and stare at the Christmas tree strung with single strands of tinsel and hung with plastic icicles. There’s a folded note back in the branches with my name on it. I pull it out, open it and read, “Look in the laundry tub.”
Apparently, the hunt’s not over yet.
So I trudge through the snow on this still-dark morning and stomp into the motel utility room. There, lying in the bottom of the tub is the hairdryer that belonged in the box.
I scoop it up and run back in the house.
“I got my hairdryer!” I shriek.
Mom takes a drag on her cigarette and nods.
“Never judge the inside by the outside of the box,” she says.
I suspect we sit down to breakfast then–probably toast and fried eggs, “whites hard and yolks runny.” And I dip my toast in the yolk and smear everything yellow to make it edible. And my mom smokes another cigarette and sips another cup of coffee.
Dad cleans up the mess, and I do the dishes.
And more than half a century later, I remember–and try to practice–my mother’s words.
“Never judge the inside by the outside.”
Looking for a sweet Mother’s Day gift? Or a gift for any day? For your mom? For yourself? For your sibling? For your friend? Consider this book by my friend, Laura Lynn Brown:
You’ll encounter two stories here. One is a collection of memories of my mother, who died before I was able to offer her such a bouquet. But there’s still joy in the sharing of the remarkable woman she was, and in offering vignettes that might bear some resemblance to your won memories of mothering.
And from the back cover:
Thoughtful and playful questions serve as a springboard for recording your memories. Quotations about moms the world over add reflection and wit.