Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mining the family treasures for Christmas decor

     The family trips of my childhood were never undertaken without the "toilet kit," a small leather suitcase which served as a sort of portable medicine cabinet. Besides toothpaste, there was always a small jar of Pond's cold cream, Chapstick, with its original, waxy flavor and black metal cylinder, and a tube of something for poison oak, which, when spread over a rash, dried to a nasty pinkish brown patch.  We would set out on camping trips in our unlovely Rambler station wagon, the wooden poles of the tent crammed crosswise behind the back seat, providing a firm neck support.  Most of the time the destination was Washington state, so there'd be rain at some point.  As a result, the green canvas tent always held a strong whiff of mildew.  Arrival at the campsite for the night meant everyone blowing up his or her air mattress, which usually deflated at some point overnight.  I know all this now, but at the time, a trip only meant a wonderful adventure was in store.  We have dozens of beautiful pictures where we're all smiling, so we managed quite well.
     Several years ago, I asked my mother for the "toilet kit" as a reminder of those times.  I think she had to replace the mirror in the lid, but eventually gifted it to me.  Inside was a note which read, "I hope you cherish the enclosed items as they come from my heart."  And yes, there was a jar of Pond's cold cream, a couple of 1960's pink plastic hair rollers, and the like.
     I hadn't remembered that part when I took the suitcase down off the shelf today, and it gave me a real chuckle to experience it all over.
     It had struck me that the case would make the perfect place for items of holiday decor, displayed on my hutch.  I put some wadded newspaper on the bottom, and arranged some fun items like they were spilling out the top.  The felt winter doll is one my sister made several years back.  It's fun seeing the case out on display, and only I know why my decorations carry a faint aroma of a 1960's hair net when I walk past.