Just before Christmas, deep into day three of the vomiting child and the woe is me of life spent trapped inside with illness, a package arrived for Mary and Kate from Minnesota. Inside we found many wonderfully wrapped gifts for the girls and on the bottom, an oddly shaped, and very breakable, gift for me, wrapped only in several layers of bubble wrap. I pulled out the girls treats and closed the box quickly, sticking this joy under our tree for Christmas morning.
My Dad's sister is the keeper of all the family treasures and she shares them generously with all of us. Don't mention that you like her washing machine when you visit, she is likely to pull the plug and suggest you take it home. On the third finger of my left hand I wear my grandmother's engagement ring because of her overwhelming generosity. I should have known that this box would contain more than holiday trinkets for Mary and Kate.
Christmas morning I dug out the box and pulled out what I knew would make me cry, something that once belonged to Mimi, something I remember sitting on the counter, next to the refrigerator, always full of freshly baked treats. Amidst all the madness of Christmas morning with four year old twins I pulled out my gift and proudly showed it to everyone.
"That is hideous, and it's winking". What? I loved it. Jack was truly horrified, "where are you planning on putting that? It will scare the children. Look, it's broken, your grandfather must have hated it as much as I do." I could not be swayed, it was wonderful and I loved it.
My sister swore she had never seen it before. She probably had not, I'm the oldest, by years. This beauty was moved to the basement, replaced by a strawberry, and then finally a watermelon, itself handed down from Teetee. She fell to the ugly side, and still could not believe it once belonged to Mimi.
The owl and I sat on the sofa, in a warm embrace, reunited after far too many years. Together we watched as the rest of the gifts were opened, enjoying our little family, happy to be a part of the day. Eventually she moved to the mantle when I went to prepare breakfast. By dinnertime someone had turned her, posterior facing the room, an assumed improvement over the front.
She needs a name, and an honored spot in our home, although not in the kitchen, she might scare the children. She is forever a wonderful reminder that some of the best gifts are those that have been loved before. Christmas can be a truly ugly owl wrapped in bubble wrap who arrives on a rotten day to bring cheer and joy to a momentarily sick household.
Time to bake the cookies.