Monday, November 14, 2005

Broken Pieces and Other Surprises

My boxes are arriving from New Jersey and I am discovering surprises—lovely little things I didn’t remember I had. I am also discovering things I have outgrown and wish I hadn’t paid to ship here. But that’s okay. If nothing else, those things are reminders of how far I’ve come in the close to two years since I put them into storage.

I am delighted by some of the things I'm unpacking. I love my fairy water fountain, fabric that makes me smile just to look at it, pieces of jewelry I didn’t know if I’d given away, an angel music box someone gave me after my divorce. These are part of who I am and I love having them. At the same time, I’m also delighted that I could manage without them when I needed to. I never want to become a person who thinks her value is tied to what she owns. Possessions matter only in the ways they make us smile and bring back memories we want to hold onto.

There are other things that make me want to cry, like the broken pieces of things I thought I’d packed carefully enough to survive the trip. That includes the broken garden fairy statue, the broken music boxes, two broken plates and a soup bowl from my mother’s set of Ginori china.

The china maybe hits me the worst. I’ve never used it, you see. I kept it in sealed boxes in my attic while I was married when it came to me after my mother’s death. Far worse, in all the years I was growing up, I never saw my mother use that china. She got it from her mother and kept it boxed up. I didn’t even know what it looked like until I unboxed it. But I will use it. I will use it when my daughter and her friends come over Christmas. I will use it every day when I want to remind myself that possessions matter not because of the monetary value they might have, that they matter instead for how they can make us feel and the memories they hold.

When I use this china, it will connect me to my mother and my mother’s mother—women who didn’t believe that they deserved to use something this special. It will connect me to women who didn’t know how to be happy and it will remind me that yet again, in yet another way, I have broken the pattern that went on for generations. I will mend, if I can, the broken pieces of china and keep them to remind me that while some things that get broken can’t be fixed, others can—like the music boxes and my fairy garden statue, and the china.

If the only value these pieces had was what I could sell them for, the broken dishes would be worthless. But if the value of these pieces is bringing me joy when I use them, then if they can be glued back together, they are just as valuable as ever.

I have only begun to unpack the 40 plus packages I shipped to myself. I have no doubt I will find more wonderful surprises and more broken pieces. I will grieve the broken things and do what I can to save them. I will also celebrate the good surprises, the ones that make me smile.

And with each box unpacked, this house becomes more and more my home.

Celebrate the surprises in your life. Even the broken pieces can have meaning for us if we choose to let them.