I have two confessions to make:
1) I cried in the middle of a store this week.
2) I have a weird love affair with seasonal tabletop decor.
You know, like tablecloths and dishes of every color. And fancy napkin rings (even though I despise cloth napkins). And all varieties of drinking glasses. And useless decorations that will sit on top of the table and take up space where the food should be sitting, getting in everyone’s way. Yeah, that stuff.
I love plates shaped like maple leaves in the fall. I love the red and gold and silver sparkly-trimmed business around Christmas time. I adore hydrangea blue-purple splashed on top of yellow fabric in the spring. I love cups with watermelon-shaped ice cubes in the summer. Just thinking about it….oh, glory!
When I was a little girl, I declared it my life’s mission (in addition to being a paleontologist, of course) to grow up and have a big tote full of decorations and dishes for every season and holiday of the year, which I would change and update whenever the time was right. Every time I walk past the seasonal displays–shiny, colorful, sparkly– I still dream a little dream. It’s a sickness, really. I’m sort of a junkie. In theory anyway.
This weekend I was in Kohl’s to pick up a few things (which was strange enough for me) I looked at the seasonal decor (duh!) and saw some of those pretty tablecloths. My heart skipped a beat because I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year and I really wanted a pretty table for dinner.
Then I spotted it. It was shiny and silky and heavily beaded… A beautiful Christmas-y table runner that immediately reminded me of the one that my momma bought me years ago, for absolutely no other reason than I fell in love with it. At the time, I was a single gal with a crappy apartment, no guests coming over for a dinner party, not even space to have one if I wanted to. We were out shopping together, so I know it had to have been a long time ago. I was swooning over this gorgeous, red silk beaded runner, and saying how I couldn’t wait to have a house to decorate for the holidays someday. Then I bounced along, down the aisle to look at the next shiny thing. She put it in the cart without me even noticing, and it has been mine ever since we finished that shopping trip.
My Mom’s love language was clearly gifts. I didn’t know that then, but looking back now I can see it. She had the habit of telling me to put things in the cart/bag if I even slightly mentioned in passing that I liked it. I had to talk her down quite a few times from buying me lovely but completely unnecessary things. She had lived a hard life growing up and basically had nothing. She had to quit school after 8th grade because her family couldn’t afford clothes and books for her to attend school. Besides, they needed her to work to help them keep food on the table. So to her, having things you want means that you’ve pulled yourself up by the bootstraps, and you’ve made a good life. Purposely denying yourself something nice when you have the money to pay for it just didn’t make sense in her world…which I suppose is the reason I drove her so crazy during the last few years of her life.
But standing there in Kohl’s this week, surrounded by seasonal, sparkly, unnecessary things, the tears welled up in an instant and flooded my eyes as I thought about my momma. It only took a second to go from wow-that’s-gorgeous to my-momma’s-really-gone?
And just like that, I was one of those weirdos who cries in public. Oh dear….
But I guess that’s what it’s like when grief sneaks up on you… When you’ve been too busy to give it its proper due, it just sneaks up from behind while you’re in the midst of all that busy-ness and takes what rightfully belongs to it: your attention.
It’s been nearly a year since I lost my mom. We’re about to have the first Thanksgiving without her, which was always her favorite holiday. I keep thinking to myself that I’ll be fine, that she would want us to have a happy day and not be sad about her being gone. I keep telling myself I’ll be fine. We’ll all be fine. But then again, I thought I’d be “fine” looking at fancy table decor too.
In all honesty, I’m only half looking forward to this holiday, but I’m trying hard to be thankful anyway. Thankful that I had a mother who was so giving, even if sometimes it was to her own detriment. Thankful that I have a home in which to host family, no matter how dysfunctional, for the holiday. Thankful that we’ll be sharing a meal, since there are some who won’t get such a luxury in their whole lifetime, let alone once a year.
I’ll have a few shiny things on the table this year, but certainly not a tote full, as I’ve long since lost interest in storing up that much of anything. But this year when I pass the potatoes across my shiny, patterned tablecloth, I’ll remember how my momma always brought a little sparkle into our lives. And for that, I will always be thankful.