While doing some cleaning-out-of-stuff in the garage recently I came across an old cardboard box marked fragile. Pulling the box closer to me, I sat down and removed the yellowed, crinkled tape holding it together; then slowly opened it. As I began lifting away layers of crumpled newspapers, I noticed something towards the bottom, half exposed and sparkling. Taking a closer look, I knew what I’d found. Every once in a while, I’d wonder where it’d gone. After removing the rest of the newspapers, I stood with that box in hand and went inside the house. Putting it down on the kitchen counter, I began pulling out small crystal cups and eventually, a crystal punch bowl and crystal ladle. All of the pieces had belonged to my mother.
Taking a wet cloth, I wiped away leftover bits of newspapers and grit and remnants of leaves that had found their way inside the box. The longer I stood there, the more memories of that crystal punch bowl came back to me. My father was a member of the local Lions Club. In the summertime my parents would host a social event in our back yard before that Club’s annual event held at a local restaurant. In preparation of the event, my mother would get out the crystal punch bowl and fill it with a concoction of liquids, adding a few slices of oranges and limes and topping it off with cherries.
While the punch chilled, my mother would get dressed. That was my favorite part of the event. One in particular stands out. With her good slip on, she opened her closet door and pulled out one of her fancy dresses and spread it out on her bed. Most likely, she’d made the dress. She was an exquisite seamstress. Going into the bathroom, she took out bobby pins securing tight curls in her hair; then stood in front of the bathroom mirror and brushed the curls out—using a bit of hair gel to cement the style in place. Back in the bedroom, my mother unzipped her dress. Then standing in front of a mirror, she put it on. Adjusting her slip, she checked all angles of the dress, making sure the darts and the seams were in place. Then she opened her blue velvet jewelry box. I loved all the pieces kept in that magic box of shiny things. The cameo necklace with matching earrings and the necklace with small emeralds set in yellow gold were stunning. But my favorite was the pearl necklace. I remember my mother telling me my father had given it to her. The pearl necklace is what she chose to wear that particular evening. After dabbing some Toujours Moi behind her ears and on her wrists, my mother was ready for the ball. While the social event was going on, I peeked outside to see how things were going. I thought my parents were the most beautiful couple in the crowd.
I don’t know if I’ll ever use the crystal punch bowl but that doesn’t matter. It’s about the memories of watching my mother transform into Cinderella with her hair rid of bobby pins and her red lipstick on along with her fancy dress and pearl necklace and her long white gloves and black dress purse with its sparkling clasp ready to go. It’s about my father who always wore a tie, even to the post office and picnics in the summertime. But there was something about the tie he wore to that particular gathering in the backyard that made him even more handsome. That’s probably because he was escorting Cinderella to the ball.
That crystal punch bowl was part of that era and while my parents have since passed away, I can still see my mother in the kitchen with bobby pins in her hair filling that bowl; then slicing the fruit and going to get dressed.
Memories come in all shapes and sizes—even in a crystal punch bowl with matching crystal cups.