Rediscovered article – Small things…

My hubby, Brent, pulled out a shoebox that I decorated and filled for him as a Valentine’s Day gift in 2005. I had not forgotten the gift or the sentiment behind it, but I had forgotten exactly what I placed in it.

Small things mean a lot to me. I am so grateful for the small pleasures that surround us, and no matter how miserable my mood or challenging my situation, those small things offer a lifeline. I notice them. I notice them even more when things are difficult, it seems.

I wanted to encourage this perspective in my then-boyfriend. I had an inkling he was someone I could share my life with long-term, and I wanted to know if he appreciated the small things, too.

Last night, we looked through the box. Inside were some really fantastic found objects – and this is in the days before I started obsessively hoarding found objects (that’s been a fairly recent indulgence – in degree if not in actuality). There was also a Robert Frost poem (one I need to re-read…) and photographs I took for no other reason than because I thought the scene beautiful. I included this article, with a note to consciously saver the contents of the box and add to them as the years passed. (He has, by the way – there were items in there that were not originally from me – a drawing from his daughter, a handmade gift tag from Christmas past…)

Loose Creek Sunset, June 7, 2005, Photo Credit: Lora Cramer, Linn, MO

Here’s the article. It was published in The Daily Banner, University of TN student paper:

Even small things can bring flood of memories
Kristi Maxwell – Staff Writer
Friday, March 02, 2001 issue

Splendor is all around us, even in the simplest of things.

While choosing my daily dessert, my eyes paused reverently on banana pudding. Why would a creamy treat hold anyone’s attention longer than a gulp?

Banana pudding was included in all of my final visits to my grandfather. He had an affinity for the sweet concoction, and I made it a chore to bring him some each visit, whether homemade or supermarket fresh. The banana pudding held my attention not because I was hungry, but because it held my memory of him and the moments we spend in the chairs by light-pouring windows, dipping our spoons in full bowls and smiling.

Ordinary items carry an amazing power of association with them. And they will present themselves without warning. Sometimes the reminder is pleasant, but sometimes it is painful. When the pain of the reflection bats its angry eye lashes a bit too rapidly, take a deep breath and recall why the item could ever hold a sacredness. Surely, something pleasant lives in it.

I will always be partial to sunsets in September, because these were the first I shared breathlessly, focusing more on the absolute wonder of the process than on the cotton candy clouds that seemed to be spinning the pinks and purples as the sun moved into hiding. Some September sunsets distract me so greatly that I have to pull off the road and gaze until I am only looking at night.

One such time, I turned into a parking lot, and a woman pushing her full grocery basket from the store stopped and stared with me.

Tremendous view, she said, and I agreed it was beautiful. Beauty’s hard to resist, she replied knowingly with a smirk.

She summed up my adoration for these moments: Beauty does not have to be resisted.
[emphasis mine]

Symbols like this are potent in day-to-day life. They serve as flashing lights assuring people are moving, but not without scraping a souvenir from each experience. People recognize this, thus the popularity of photographs. Photographs can be living ghosts, preserving moments shared with individuals that floated in and out of a life. Pictures are a safety net, because we do not trust our brains alone to capture the tint of a loved one’s hair, salty and wet from Florida ocean. There is a great fear of forgetting that is weakened by modern technology’s means of keeping.

Sentimentality is a marketing method in itself. Think of all of the pressed-penny machines lining popular tourist spots. But if you move beyond the commercialization of memorabilia, you find a world of little, seemingly ridiculous random items that are much more than cheesy magnets and key chains.

A momento from my chicken-pox episode sits by my bed. It is a small plastic doll called an Oodle that helped make all of those oatmeal baths a little more enjoyable. It preserves a message of resilience.

Weak moments often produce the strongest lessons. A morally weak moment for me also carries itself along with my belongings in the shape of a miniature bathtub and rose-molded soaps. When I was quite a young one, I decided that the fascinating soaps in the Victoria’s Secret’s bathroom would be much happier with me than in suds on all the customers’ hands. Carefully, I placed the five soaps in my tiny pant pockets. My dad, acting as a trained soap Gestapo, noticed the bulging in my pockets and asked what I had in them. Knowing I was caught, I handed over the wonderful rose soaps and endured the gentle scolding against stealing.

A week later, I received a gift accompanied by a card reading, Nothing is worth stealing, and never let that be a resort you’re willing to take. That marked my first and only attempt of stealing. To think, little soaps kept me from being criminal.

I am forced to smile at the realization that nothing is common; it is only undiscovered in its uniqueness. We leave so much uncherished just because we do not take the time to recognize its sentimental value. Let’s make a pact to chase the momentos out into the light, so we can acquaint ourselves with them daily and relive the periods of time that make them significant. This weekend, when you are at the park with the person that makes your eyes shine, pick up a pine cone and years later, recollection will prick you with its early spring memory.


2 Responses

  1. Aww, thanks so much for sharing this, Amy. Love your decorated shoebox, even without seeing it. And love the article. =)


  2. this is so beautiful. i am a ‘collector’ too.. i often find dried wild flowers that my daughter gathers for me from time to time in the pockets of my pants and bags, just because i don’t have the heart to throw them away. i put them in a small tin can that sits on my desk, to remind me of how precious even the littlest things are.
    thanks for sharing this. 🙂

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