Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chick Lit Cheerleader: Timeless Treasures

Introduction by Melissa Amster

When I hear the word "nostalgia," I usually think of pop culture from back in the day. However, Jen Tucker, our Chick Lit Cheerleader, has me looking at nostalgia in a different way. Today's post made me think of some memories from visiting my grandparents as a kid. My paternal grandmother had this box of costume jewelry, which would keep my sister and I busy all throughout our visit. I don't know what ever happened to all the jewelry, but I still remember trying on different necklaces and clip on earrings. When I went to my late maternal grandmother's house, I loved this Cinderella coach that was on one of the tables in her living room. I don't even know if it was connected with Cinderella, but it made me think of that for some reason. There was even a light you could switch on. I know my mom took all the items from her home, but I can't remember seeing that one anywhere in her house. It's definitely the one item I wouldn't mind having on display someday in my home. I think my daughter would find it as fascinating as I did. 

Today, Jen is telling us about something that made her ugly cry as much as The Fault in Our Stars.

She has the "Precious"

My grandmother kept a marble trinket box on an end table in her modest family room. The rectangular shaped keepsake was a gift from her sister, Ruthie. A souvenir from her travels to India in the mid 1970’s. The funny thing about this treasure was it was the only thing I was never permitted to touch in Grandma’s home.

Nothing was off limits when I visited my grandparents. From the World War II harmonica Grandpa tucked away in his nightstand, to the cookie jar always generously overloaded with vanilla sandwich cremes, limits were never placed upon my curiosity, or little fingers, until this lidded, white box arrived. I wasn’t keen on that. Not one bit.

Grandma decided this gift was the perfect place to tuck her Winston cigarettes inside, package and all. Until this box arrived, I was always the one who fetched a cigarette for Grandma June from the middle drawer of her doily topped end table. Don’t go judging my granny now, people. This was the 70’s, remember? The day this marble box came into Grandma’s life, it marked the moment my cigarette girl services were no longer required nor desired.

“Jenny, that’s Grandma’s special gift from Aunt Ruthie. I don’t want you to touch it, do you understand?”
I remember looking at Grandma June, puzzled, saying, “Why can’t I touch this one box, Grandma?”
She lovingly took my small hands into hers and said, “Because it’s precious.”

This was quite the blow to my only grandchild ego. Not only was I banned from being near the box, but also I was no longer needed.

I was the early bird each morning while visiting my mom’s parents over the summer. Speed Racer and Gary Gnu were on television during the wee hours of the morning in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I remember one morning while nestled in Grandpa’s chocolate colored wing backed chair, sunshine came through the window and illuminated the beautiful stones atop Grandma’s marble box. I recall transferring myself from Grandpa’s favorite chair onto the fabric worn, swivel seat where my grandmother read and sewed for many years. I picked up the box and held it in my hands. I recollect pondering why is this precious? I thought I was precious. From that moment on, I mischievously decided I was going to show force in the matter. I gently set the box down in its place, removed the lid, and turned it perpendicular to the box, placing it back on top. I’d left my mark. A “Jenny was here” kind of thing. I moved that lid every chance I had and denied being the culprit each and every time. I thought I was the slyest cat in the room.

This was the longest running “Jenny, when you were little…” tale in my family. Until the day Grandma left us behind for a better place, and Grandpa placed this petite box into my hands, passing it on to me, saying, “You’re the most precious things your grandmother had. It only makes sense you two end up together.”

This summer, my husband, Mike, traveled to India for two weeks on business. I asked him to bring me back a colorful scarf, maybe an outstanding pair of gold hoop earrings. Yet my heart was not prepared for what I unwrapped the day he returned. An oval shaped box. White marble with turquoise and lapis stones strategically inlaid within the lid and base, unmistakably similar to my grandmother’s. To say I ugly cried is a grave injustice to the moment I peeled back the brown paper and my eyes took in this token. He said he saw it and knew it was meant for me. One day, I hope to place both marble boxes into the hands of my daughter and entrust to her a small but precious piece of her great grandmother and me.

Jen Tucker is the author of the funny and true stories, The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out and The Day I Lost My Shaker of SaltIn September 2012, she had her children's book, Little Pumpkin published as an e-book. She also blogs monthly for Survival for Blondes. She currently lives in Indiana with her husband, three kids and two dogs. You can find her at TwitterFacebook, her blog and on her website. And in case you missed them. check out her previous Chick Lit Cheerleader posts here.


Janine said...

What a beautiful box and great memory

Preet said...

Your beautiful story made me cry. Especially the line when your grandfather gave the box to you. It's the little things that bring us joy.

Carol Fragale Brill said...

Your story reminded me of visiting my Nanny and her how I was mesmerized by her knickknack shelf . . . and she always gave us a finger of wine in a ruby juice glass with a Stella Dora biscuit.
thanks for sharing your memories.

Unknown said...

Janine, thank you so much. So kind of you.

Chanpreet, thank you. I miss my grandparents so much that once in awhile, I'll move the lid on that box, just a tad, just to keep the mischief alive and well.

Carol, I'm so glad it brought back fond memories. It's amazing...when I hold that marble box in my hands, I'm instantly transported back to my grandparents' living room.