As I have shared with you all in the past, over the years I have fallen in love with clutter. It started first by tolerating clutter but you know how it is. If something stays around long enough you can grow to love it. Even start to collect it. But let me be clear here. I don’t love just any sort of clutter. What I’m talking about here specifically is old clutter. (I know what your saying…”Mary, dear, is there a difference?”)
Antique, Vintage Ephemera…or Just Plain Junk?
Yes, there is a difference – It’s the clutter that Mary Randolph Carter is so fond of. All those little bits and bobs that can bring comfort and joy into our lives. But maybe clutter is not the right word for it…but it is what my old self - my perfectionist, minimalist single self of long ago - would have called it. Even worse, truth be told, I think she would have called it Junk – with a capital “J”. These days I like to think of it as antique or vintage ephemera (…don’t you just love that word!?! Yes, I know that it generally refers to only paper things but I just love writing it and saying it…thanks for bearing with me.) And between you and me, I like myself so much more this way.
But don’t worry. Over the years I have learned how to keep our clutter in check so it doesn’t engulf the house. No worries there. FlyLady has taught me how to control our Hot Spots. You’ll never find us the subject of the show “Hoarders”. (At least I hope not!) Nonetheless, I can’t help but be attracted to the worn the, the tattered, and the chipped.
Sipping Tea with Xavier Cugat!
These days I love the old stuff. Like the lovely things that cluttered my eccentric aunt’s high rise New York apartment many years ago. My cousin and I would sit on large Chippendale chairs, feet dangling, pushed in close to her antique dining room table, where we were surrounded by silver tea sets, fine china, elaborate Victorian cake stands, bone handled pastry servers, and brick-a-brac of all sorts.
We would sip our tea as Xavier Cugat played on the Victrola, listening deftly, with our pre-teen ears, wide-eyed to the stories of our single aunt’s many adventures traveling the world. And although it has been many years since our delightful aunt has been alive, my cousin and I still hear those stories resonate in our ears whenever we catch a glimpse of the treasure she left behind for us.
But Mary, What About the Desk & The Love Story?
But I digress. (I’m really good at that!) What I wanted to say…is that it’s the story behind the old things that I love, not just the things themselves. And now, we get to where I wanted to begin…
Such is the case with a story I learned about a very special worn, tattered, and chipped desk. I’d like to share that story with you here today…
Many years ago, a lovely older woman decided to host a New Year’s Eve party. She invited all the folks in her neighborhood including a handsome soldier who had just returned from the war. He was staying with his sister who lived down the street. The woman also invited a bevy of lovely sisters – one in particular who was single.
Days before the party, the sisters were looking out the window of their mother’s home as the returning soldier walked down the street. The youngest sister glanced out the window as well, but dismissed the young man as too thin. She also thought that he looked younger than her. She decided she wasn’t interested.
The night of the party everyone put their finest clothes on and headed over to the large English tutor home on the corner. As the night advanced, the youngest sister decided to look through the records for something to play on the record player. The soldier, taken by the young woman’s beauty – thick dark hair and porcelain features – walked over to the the woman’s side and offered to help.
The two started chatting and the young woman was immediately taken with the soldier’s handsome face and kind words. It didn’t seem to matter that he was skinny…or that he was clearly younger than her. She was thirty now and there weren’t a lot of single men available from which to receive attention. The last war had taken so many and now this war had taken it’s toll as well.
So when the soldier requested a dance, the young woman said yes. After a few twirls around the dance floor, she was surprised to find her self quite smitten. They danced the night away and when the clock struck midnight the soldier asked the young woman for a date. The first kiss would have to wait till Valentine’s Day!
The proposal of marriage came in March and the couple was married in June. The old women – who’s New Year’s Eve party started it all – gave the couple her much beloved writing desk. She pictured the husband working at it managing the financial affairs of his new family, and the lovely bride siting at it to write out her recipe cards and chat on the phone. And that’s exactly how the desk was used.
A few years later, the couple was blessed with the birth of their daughter. They named her Mary. Yep, that’s me. And the lovely couple – now married almost 57 years – are my parents. And the desk? My folks used it for many years, and when I married my prince charming, they gave it to us! And from that desk, I am writing to you today.
And that, my sweet friends, is why I love the worn, the tattered, and the chipped.
And if you caught it…yes, my Mom is younger than my Dad, just like my husband is younger than me. But what’s even funnier? My mother-in-law is younger than my father-in-law! But that’s a story for another day.
Have a wonderful weekend.