T Is For Things
When my mother died, my brothers and I cleaned out her house. We each kept a few mementos, but the majority of her household goods were donated to a local charity. The items I kept are not valuable; they are meaningful only to me, because I know the back story.
Several years ago I belonged to a local writing group. One of the participants was writing a series of pieces on the things that she owned and treasured. These were ordinary items that took on significance because of their history. In describing a toolbox that had belonged to her father, she wrote about her relationship with her father and his gift for using tools. The piece was a glimpse into her childhood and her connection to her father. She explained to our writing group that she was writing about her things because when she died her children would inherit her estate and she wanted them to know the significance of some of her favorite things. She didn't want a piece of family history to become just an old toolbox in the estate sale.
Good idea, huh? So today I write about one of my favorite things: my copy of A.A. Milne's, When We Were Very Young.
My copy was published in 1925, so it was probably originally my mother's book. My name is written on the inside cover in my mother's hand, probably because I used to take it to school with me. I love the poetry and the word choices. I love that the poems paint a picture of an English life that I had left behind when my family immigrated to America. Now, I was almost 5 when we left England and what I picture of an English life probably has more to do with imagination than reality.
When I read "They're changing the guard at Buckingham Palace- Christopher Robin went down with Alice," I hear my mother's voice. When I read one of these poems to my grandchildren, I use the same tone and inflections that my mother used. The book is one of my favorite things because it represents, to me, my childhood.
So when it comes time to clean out my possessions, I hope one of my granddaughters will choose to save this little red book from the Goodwill pile and will read it to my great-grandchildren and remember when Nana would read "They're changing the guard at Buckingham Palace..."