TOUCHSTONES

Anniversary 031Look in my closet and you’ll see what I’m sentimental about. Look around my house. I’m sentimental about my childhood.

I know, everyone thinks they had either an idyllic childhood, or a horrible childhood. There were some bad times for our family – sickness, death of loved ones, etc. – but I really had it pretty good. (Yes, even after my sister came along . . .)

I guess that’s why I love some of my “stuff.” I know, it doesn’t take the place of the memories, but they’re like touchstones for me. Photographs, a special toy, a record album (NOT a CD, a VINYL ALBUM!), a lunchbox – they all bring me back to a simpler time and place.

This time of year, the falling leaves take me back to a huge maple in our front yard that literally left a foot of golden leaves every year. It was like the sunshine didn’t want to leave us, and decided to lie about and let us enjoy it for a few weeks before the dreary days of winter set in.

Anniversary 019A fire in the fireplace makes me remember those Christmases at my grandparents’ house, where the only time there was a fire, was at Christmastime. The green army blankets left the doorways where they hung, protecting us from drafts, and the fire warmed the whole space.

Attending a concert given by my daughter’s college choir the other night, they pulled a quartet out to sing a couple of southern gospel songs – they took me right back to my dad singing in a quartet, my grandmother playing for them, and the many albums of quartet music that formed the background music of my childhood – I’ve had “Sweeter As The Days Go By” running through my head ever since.

My parents’ 50th anniversary this year had us looking through old photographs – it brought back so many memories of the house we lived in when I was very young. The recent death of my grandmother brought the family together to share memories of days gone by. I look at my piano, and I can see my grandmother playing it, my dad, aunt, and uncle singing around her.

Quilts. They’re all over my house. I have the butterfly quilt that my mother started piecing when she was 13, and finished quilting when I was 13. I have the “doll” quilt that my paternal grandmother made and always had on the bed in the back bedroom when I would come to spend the night. I have the quilt that my maternal grandmother made FOR me when I was 10 or 12, and upon which she taught me to quilt. Every quilt has bits of fabric that have stories – and we talk about them, still.

skilletBut you know what one of my favorite touchstones would have to be?

My iron skillet.

My other grandmother, who has been gone for several years, told me that it had belonged to my grandfather’s mother or grandmother. It is the skillet that, at her house, I learned to cook bacon (crispy, not limp!) and French toast. I think of her every time I make cornbread. It is seasoned to perfection. I guess you might say it’s one of my most prized possessions.

I know “stuff” isn’t as important as people – but sometimes I think God imbues our “stuff” with the ability to maintain those memories that make us, us. I thank Him for it every day.

To what childhood object are YOU most attached?

Being a Kid

chocolate dessertBeing a “grown-up” is great. I can eat dessert before a meal if I want. I can run with scissors. I can stay up all night or choose to go to bed early.

But I also have to go to work, pay bills, clean the house, do the laundry, grocery shop and make meals, raise kids and pets, be a good neighbor, take my turn on volunteer boards and in volunteer positions. When I act silly, people look at me weird. If I showed up at someone’s door holding a treat-or-treat plastic pumpkin, the homeowner would probably call the police.

So while I’m generally a happy, well-adjusted, productive adult, there are times I wish I could go back to being a kid.

I remember…

Playing “Free” – with all the neighbor kids. One person was “it” and counted to 100 (or whenever they wanted to stop counting), then tried to catch us while we tried to get home free (without being tagged). Home was usually a tree in the middle of a yard, or something else equally obvious and visible.

4 Square

Going to the Park – which was very different then than it is now. Now parents take their children to the park. Back then, we were practically thrown out of the house and told to come back for lunch. So we went to the park. The one near us was Papoose Park (yes, it’s  been renamed). During the summer they had paid playground staff who would run games all day. We’d play softball, 4 square, do crafts, and just hang out with the very cool (probably college-aged) staff person. We loved it. And I’ll bet our parents loved it.

movie theaterGoing to a Movie – and staying for the double-feature. You could stay there all afternoon, if you wanted. I remember seeing several Beatles’ movies in a row. But I was never “old enough” to sit in the balcony (of what I realize now was a very tiny theater). That’s where the big kids sat to…you know.

Five & Dimes – all that penny and nickel candy! We’d walk there, spend time strolling through the store and picking through the candy bins (root beer barrels, wax bottles with a weird liquid inside, candy cigarettes, snaps, and bubble gum). Our Ben Franklin store back then was a lot different than the Ben Franklins I see now.

Sleepovers – with my girlfriends. We’d go out for walks at night and shake bats from the trees (for some odd reason we dressed in black – I guess so the bats wouldn’t see us), then stay up all night eating, watching movies, doing each other’s hair, and then be super cranky the next day. (And, of course, Mom always had to come down to tell us “for the last time” to quiet down).

It’s true. Youth is wasted on the young. Anyone for a sleepover? (maybe we can stay up until 10:30…)  🙂

 

Rodeo Queen cover

We’re celebrating the release of Shannon’s latest title, Rodeo Queen, for the next two weeks. Shannon is giving away TWO print copies. All comments will go into a drawing. Deadline: Nov 16, 11:59 pm central time.

Caitlyn Wentworth loves being a Rodeo Queen. Until she starts receiving threatening letters from a stalker. The good news is, the Texas Ranger assigned to her case is none other than her former sweetheart Mitch Warren—the man who chose his career over love.

Mitch vows to focus on protecting the woman he’s never forgotten. But Caitlyn stirs up memories best left in the past. When Mitch insists on hiding Caitlyn away on his family’s San Antonio ranch, will he keep things professional or seek out a second chance?