Appreciation

A local woman’s snowman collection is being featured at the historical museum. There are hundreds of the creatures, all kinds and sizes (though none made of real snow).

I don’t have anywhere near as many snowmen as she did, but I do have a very small collection of my own. Though I have no particular interest in snowfolk, things do tend to accumulate.

This is an ornament I did in a porcelain painting class. The subject matter was chosen by the teacher, probably because a snowman is a fairly easy subject for beginners:

This is a wooden wall decoration made for me by one of my new friends:

This is a gift card a friend sent to me couple of years ago, that I thought was clever.

And then there are these two five-inch-tall snowfolk who apparently think they are on an island adventure.

I wouldn’t even have those last two except for Jeff. Although they took me forever to make (each hand-sewn body consists of eight pieces, plus another eight for hands and feet), I wasn’t impressed, and intended to get rid of them, but Jeff wouldn’t let me. He liked most of what I made, and if I did throw something away, he always rescued it. These two snowfolk adorned his desk for many years, and at the end of his life, when he told me what he wanted me to do with his “effects,” he requested that I keep them. (In fact, most of the things he asked me to keep were things I had made.)

I realize I am not bound by any promises to the dead, but it’s such a little thing Jeff asked for, and though I still don’t particularly like these little guys, they remind me of him. He was such an appreciator, not just of my things, but of anything of artistic merit.

Jeff was the sort of person movie directors hope would watch their movies, would understand their vision and appreciate all the nuances that went into creating that vision. He’d study the backgrounds and settings, special lighting effects, the subtleties that most people (including me) would miss. It wasn’t just movies — he appreciated music, books, even comic strips. When we got Calvin and Hobbes books, I’d scan through them, reading the words, enjoying the jokes, and was done in a jiffy, but he studied every line of every panel, sometimes taking as long to read/appreciate one strip as it took me to read the whole book.

Most of the things I kept of his are packed away, but I dug out the two island hoppers for this latest installment of my Christmas show and tell.

Now I’m sitting here, staring at the computer screen, tears in my eyes, wishing for . . . I don’t know. Maybe one more of his appreciative smiles. But whatever it is I want, it’s something I can’t have.

What I do have are things. And kept promises.

And a greater appreciation for my small collection of snowmen.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Suzy Homemaker

When I was a little girl, I wanted a toy oven that really worked. Actually, now that I think of it, I’m not sure it was the oven I wanted but the accessories — small baking pans, child-size utensils, and especially the miniature boxes of cake and muffin mixes.

My mother, being the practical woman that she was, thought those mixes ridiculously high priced for the little that came in the package. (I’m sure she thought the adult-size mixes too high-priced, because she baked everything from scratch.)

On Christmas morning, I found huge present, almost as tall as I was. Instead of the tiny boxes of mixes that I wanted, she had given me dozens of full-size mixes as well as a full-size Pyrex mixing bowl set.

Somehow, she just didn’t get it.

Still, it was sweet and thoughtful of her. I enjoyed using those mixes, of course, and the bowls, which I kept for many years, though I don’t know what eventually happened to them. (I think the orange Pyrex bowl I found in her kitchen when I cleaned out the house after my father died was mine, but I couldn’t keep it — I already had too much stuff.)

Well, now I have my very own kitchen, and though all my utensils and such are adult-sized, I still love small things. I spent several days baking, not just making my pretty flower cookies, but miniature cranberry muffins,

Miniature toffee bars,

And, even some full-size cookies that I baked and painted free-hand for an upcoming Snowman (Snowperson? Snowfolk? Snowpal?) exhibit at the museum.

In another couple of weeks, it will be the twelfth anniversary of my mother’s death, and I wonder what she thinks of me now, in my own house, in my own kitchen, using my own oven to make baked goods from scratch — and not a cake mix in sight!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.