unpacking memories

I have labelled one of the boxes of Christmas decorations FIRST. This box contains the Christmas calendar and the gnome.

Usually, it also contains the snowmen tealight holders. I think they were actually designed as egg cups, but they are too shallow for that, and I like hard-boiled eggs cut up on toast anyway, so they would be a little wasted on me.

The snowman decorations are generally the last ones to be put away, winter lasting past Christmas as it does, so they easily go into the box marked FIRST and come out early in the season.

Except not this year.

I could not find the snowmen. Each year, they are packed away in an old shoe box, the box itself beautifully covered in evergreen wrapping paper. When that box first came to us, it contained a handmade doll. She was made all of white cloth, from her skinny little legs, to her eyelet dress, from her matching eyelet bloomers to her blond hair.

She was a gift to Kristina from her grandmother’s housekeeper. The doll was rather too precious to play with, but I am a mama who uses the good dishes, and Kristina was always allowed to play with her.

We kept the box and now the snowmen live in it, packed away under the stairs for most of the year. When I put them away last year, I must have rearranged the boxes.

I couldn’t find the snowmen. They were – as the saying goes – in the last place I looked. Which was also the last box of Christmas gear.

Going through all of the boxes, I came across years of traditions, ornaments, and decorations.

Like this one.

We made these the Christmas after Kristina turned two. We gave one to each grandmother, and kept one for ourselves.

Oh, how I treasure this. It was almost silly, how simple it was to do. But some of the best memories are made of the simple things.

We took a cereal box (or maybe a cracker box – it’s not very big), cut handles in the top, and painted it white with tempera paints.

Then the fun part.

After pouring red and green paint into different saucers, I helped Kristina step into the pools of paint and then place her foot carefully on the boxes.

Her eyes were like those saucers. Was I really encouraging her to cover her feet in paint?

Repeat with her hands. She didn’t need help with the hands – she could see exactly what we were trying to do by then.

Yes, it was messy. After the boxes were done, I let her stomp around on large sheets of kraft paper. We used it for wrapping paper that year.

Then a barefoot run in the grass to leave some of the paint outside, followed by a warm bubble bath.

Finding that box brought it all back.

This year, she is not here to help bring boxes up from under the stairs, to help with decorating, or to steal samples of the first batches of Christmas baking.

This year, her college schedule has her coming home at almost the last possible minute before Christmas. I am praying for uneventful travel for her.

This year, Ed and I will hunt down a Christmas tree by ourselves.

And this year, I will cherish every new memory alongside the old ones.

1 Comment

  • Aw. I was going to ask you if your daughter was coming home after you left that lovely comment on my blog, but I’m glad I came here and left it on this post instead. The box you made with her when she was little is so beautiful! So glad to hear that she is coming home, even if it is at the last minute.

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