Tag Archives: basements

February Column Michiana House & Home: A gift from the heart

gift-wrap-station-4      My mother was not – by anyone’s definition – a pack rat. She did not see the sentimental value in “stuff” and did not hang on to anything that served no purpose. She harbored no collections that needed regular dusting and avoided any activity that required a large supply of some-assembly-required supplies.

She did, however, have an unusual horde of gently used gift-wrap, boxes, tissue paper, ribbons and bows that she kept in the doors and drawers of our basement cabinetry. It was the kind of wrapping paper she used throughout the year and not the huge box of Christmas paper that was stored in the attic and only brought down during the holiday season. This all-occasion cornucopia was the closet thing to a craft closet that we had and it was an irresistible treasure trove to a creative type such as myself.

It always seemed like such a treat to be sent to the basement in order to find the perfect wrapping paper for someone’s present. I took great care to rifle through the remnants in search of something that was an appropriate size for the gift it would cover along with coordinating accouterments. There were some guidelines associated with this prized task of course: I was not allowed to use any gift-wrap still in its cellophane package. I was to be extra careful with the scissors because my mother did not have time to take me to the hospital if I stabbed myself. (Yes, I swear she actually said this.) And naturally, I was not allowed to waste transparent tape.

Despite this exhaustive set of rules, I still managed to make a few mistakes. Chief among them was my inability to connect the right kind of gift-wrap with the recipient. I was fine when it came to my friends because I chose paper I recognized from my last birthday, but how was I to know that I could not wrap a gift for my grandma in paper that read “For the Ancient One?”

I also discovered it was wrong to encase an end-of-the-year teacher gift in gold wedding paper…especially if your teacher happens to be a Catholic nun. (In my defense, I thought the doves on the paper were supposed to be the Holy Spirit.) However, my finest moment came on Valentine’s Day when my brother and I presented our parents with an assortment of hand-painted rocks (yes, real out-of-someone’s-driveway-rocks) festooned in a bright pastel pink and blue print.

“Oh look,” my mother said, trying not to laugh. “Baby shower paper!”

“Is this your way of trying to tell me something?” My dad asked.

Although I didn’t get the apparent joke in what I’d done, it was my way of telling them how much I loved them. I chose the paper I liked the most because in my young estimation, it was the best of the bunch. Nothing was too good for my mom and dad and there was no better paper to cover a truly pointless, but well-intentioned gift from the heart.

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April MHH Column: Sizing up the truth

Me and Gleek    It happened right under my nose and yet, I failed to recognize the signs until the realization hit me one day as I stood in my laundry room holding an unfamiliar item of clothing and wondering to whom it belonged. Based on the style, I knew it wasn’t mine, which left only a few possibilities including an obvious one that I didn’t want to consider. After checking the size and gingerly fingering the fabric for a minute a strange sinking feeling came over me that I could not deny any longer. Gently, I folded the garment and laid it atop a nearby pile trying to ignore the sting of tears that threatened my eye sockets and burned the back of my nose.

The shirt belonged to my youngest son who somehow, without my knowledge or permission had grown up and was nearly the size of his father.

Now lest you think I am a sentimental idiot, I am well-aware that the boy has been taller than me since he was 12, sports the occasional stray hair on his chin and talks in a much deeper voice than he used to, but he is also the same person who still scatters Lego parts from the attic to the basement, sleeps with a beloved stuffed animal and leaves a sticky residue on every household surface that he touches. Technically I could have a toilet training toddler around here rather than an 18-year-old-soon-to-be-college student. So forgive me for feeling as if I have been lulled into a false sense of security.

So how did this happen without my knowing about it? It seemed that everything was fine when he was wearing those cute little cartoon briefs but changed when he graduated into those solid colored boxers that grew exponentially over the years and suddenly started landing in my husband’s dresser drawer.

“These aren’t mine,” he declared, handing me a stack of Hanes apparel, a Doctor Who shirt and several pairs of socks I’d long since gave up trying to match to their appropriate owner. “Can’t you tell the difference between my clothes and his?”

“Well of course I can,” I lied. Though in my defense, they both love Doctor Who, I hate folding underwear and seriously once a guy reaches a size 10 Nike, who can tell the difference anymore. Grab a pair of socks and move on!

Still, holding that gray shirt that somehow looked different to me when my son was wearing it, it was clear I had missed something and I instantly regretted every time I dreamed of being an empty nester, told him to grow up or act his age. How dare he follow my advice like that! Just for a moment, I wish I could travel through time like his favorite TV character in order to dress him in Garanimals rather than the Gap, fill out his preschool registration rather than the FAFSA or decorate the nursery of my baby once more instead of the dorm room of a man.

 

 

 

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