Monday, December 12, 2011

No Room

She pulls down the box of books. She knows they have to go; there's simply too much stuff in the gingerbread house. But these books? These were the books she read over and over to her little gingerbread babies. Sitting in the rocking chair that had been her mother's, she held first one boy on her lap, then another, reading these books day after day, smelling their baby smell, reveling in their baby kisses, with their plump bottoms resting on her legs, their anxious hands grasping the thick pages.

The sweetness of the memories makes her ache. This was the book she read when they first woke up: "Hey little guys! Open your eyes! What do you say? It's a brand new day!" (Sandra Boynton) There was SQUIRREL IS HUNGRY, where she tickled tummies after reading, "Squirrel can put it in his tummy. Yum! Yum!" There were the board books that had creased corners, where the first gingerbread boy used to flick the heavy cardboard with his thumb until they bent. And then there was GOODNIGHT, MOON, always a favorite with the kittens and their mittens and that little lit-up dollhouse. It was a gift from her neighbor across the street, a librarian and a kindred spirit.

She feels as if she's packing up her boys' infancy and shipping them off somewhere else. Babies in a box, sent media mail. The smell of their graham-cracker dusted hands, their round bellies, and their chubby cheeks, off they go, wrapped in plastic, and taped securely shut.

She sighs, knowing she's being ridiculous. They're only books.

And they have to go, so she packs them up, sending them off to new owners, to new little hands who will learn to love their rhythms and their rhymes while sitting on a warm lap, rocking in a chair.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Crystal Ball

When she started out, she could see into the future. It always involved breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It involved new school clothes, a Halloween costume, a birthday cake, a Christmas tree, lots of snow, those conversation hearts in February, an Easter basket, then a long summer vacation. The future meant a grade change: first grade to second grade, second to third, third to fourth. It always involved a new teacher, new things to learn, a new classroom.

When she went to high school, things began to get a little murky. There was still breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There were still new school clothes--in fact, there were more school clothes, which was ironic considering she wore a school uniform. There was still a birthday cake, and a Christmas tree, and lots of snow. There was still an Easter basket and a long summer vacation, but the future somehow seemed closer. She could see college looming ahead, but finances made her options somewhat limited. So did her mother. And majors? Sigh. She didn't know what she wanted to do with her life.

When she went to college, the future was still something far away, but every day, it was getting closer. She knew it would include a graduation, a marriage, and some children (the number of which was TBD). Someday she'd turn 30, then 40, then 50.

Now that college was over (once, twice, and thrice), and she's been married nearly seventeen years, and her family of gingerbread boys is complete, the future seems like a great expanse, and she can see no farther than the end of her fingertips.

But it doesn't seem to matter. She'll take each day as it comes, good or bad.