Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Thanksgiving Miracle

No, it's not that my family has suddenly decided to give up casseroles. Don't worry, there will be pretzel salad on our holiday buffet. But I have experienced what is to me at least, a Thanksgiving miracle. It is a small miracle and a deeply personal one, but a miracle nonetheless, and I wanted to share it.

This year my four year wedding anniversary is on Thanksgiving Day. Each year on our anniversary, Husband and I reflect on our wedding day and remember all of the lovely little moments that combined to make it a perfect celebration of love. One of my favorite parts of our wedding day was when we were all getting ready. I was all dressed in the hotel room we were using to get the girls all done up. I had just put the finishing touches on my outfit and makeup and we were about to pin on my veil when a knock came at the door. My husband sent his friend to deliver a present to me with a note. Honestly, the note would have been enough, but with the note there was a bag and inside the bag was the most beautiful necklace I had ever seen and it matched my dress perfectly. The necklace was delicate and elegant and just so perfectly me.

After our wedding I treasured that necklace. I wore it all the time because it was simple and matched everything. The funny thing was that everyone who saw it assumed it contained real diamonds, but the stones in the necklace are crystal. The crystals are set in some kind of silver colored metal. At a glance, the necklace looks like diamonds and white gold and if it were, the thing would cost a fortune. I can't even imagine. You could probably buy a house for the amount it would cost. I am very glad that my necklace is crystal for several reasons. If the necklace were diamond, I would be too scared to wear it. I would also have probably killed my husband for buying it because I'd rather have a house than a necklace any day.

I kept my wedding necklace in a small box that my aunt gave me. Also in the box were my diamond earrings (those are actual diamonds), a seed pearl bracelet that I just love and an antique ring with blue stones that I also love and have had since I was a teenager. I kept the box on my dresser.

One day, almost two years ago, I went to put my necklace on and the box was gone. It had simply vanished. I thought I was losing my mind and I searched the whole apartment. I even looked inside of shoes and flipped the mattress. I cleaned out my entire closet searching, but the box never turned up. Although there had been no signs of a break-in, it appeared that someone had stolen my jewelry box containing my necklace. My wedding necklace that meant so much to me was gone for good.

At the time my sister was dating the con-man Brad who lied to her about everything and cleaned out her bank accounts. I had suspected him long before everything came out about him. That summer, when Brad ended up in jail, I put two and two together and assumed that Brad had seen me wearing the necklace, assumed it was real, and used my sister's key to my apartment to come in while I wasn't home and steal the jewelry box. It just made sense. It was the only way a box could just disappear like that. Well, at least I had the wedding pictures showing me receiving and wearing the necklace. I had my memories. It was just a thing - a material thing. I shouldn't get so attached to objects. As disappointed as I was, I figured that what was most important was not a thing, it was my husband and our relationship and the memories that we create together and no one can ever steal those, but sometimes I thought about my necklace and how I missed it.

Sometimes I tend to place too much sentimental value on objects that represent a memory for me, rather than the actual memory. One of the reasons I write so obsessively is to preserve these memories before I forget everything. I think that I am so passionate about the experience of life and being here on Earth that I just want to make sure that I appreciate every moment and remember everything I do. Being a visual person, sometimes I need a thing I can see to keep a memory fresh. For example, a couple years ago I became fixated on a set of Pyrex mixing bowls from the early 50s. These bowls were very common and most people's mothers and grandmothers have a set. There are four bowls of different sizes which nest inside of one another for easy storage. The outsides of the bowls are primary colors - yellow, blue, green and red, while the insides are an icy white. My grandmother, Mommom Jewel, who raised me for a good part of my childhood had received a set of these bowls on her wedding day, July 1st, 1950. She used them every single day that she cooked supper and in fact, still does. Before I was born she had broken the largest bowl, which was yellow, but after sixty years the red, blue and green bowls are going strong. The image of the mixing bowls represents some of the best parts of my childhood. I remember Mommom pickling fresh cucumbers in the blue bowl, dipping sugared strawberries out of the red bowl and mixing cake batter and chocolate chip cookie dough in the green bowl. I can't even count the times she told me about her wedding day and how when her parents gave her the bowls, she had no idea how to cook a single thing. She had to learn on her own and over time she figured it out and she kept her original set of bowls because they held up and because they reminded her of how in love and excited for her new life she had been as a young bride. They reminded me of that too and they symbolized stability to me. Those bowls lasted for my grandparents' entire marriage.

A couple years ago I was Christmas shopping. I like to shop at sales, auctions and junk shops. By chance I came across the yellow bowl, independent of the rest of the set. Just the yellow bowl, all by itself in a pile of junk. What are the odds of that, I said to myself. The only one Mommom's set is missing is right there without the others. I had to get it for her. It was fate. I bought Mommom her missing yellow bowl for Christmas and re-completed her set.

After that it kind of nagged at me. I wanted a set of Pyrex mixing bowls just like Mommom's. I wanted to recreate my childhood memories and I wanted to have that symbol of family, nurturing and endurance in my kitchen too. I looked all over, determined that no matter what cost, that I would have my own set of Pyrex bowls and that was all there was to it. Finally I found the bowls on eBay, won the auction (because there was no way I was losing it) and got my bowls.

Once I got the bowls I looked at them for a long time and then decided that in order to not break, mess up or lose them, that I would just keep them and one day when I got a bigger place I would find a way to display them in my future kitchen. I put the bowls in the farthest, most hard to reach, inaccessible cabinet in my tiny kitchen and left them there for safe keeping.

The other day, after having the bowls imprisoned for about two years without using them, I finally decided that this was idiotic. For Thanksgiving I was going to cook in my mixing bowls. First because I miss my family far away and the bowls remind me of them and second because the festive colors just make me feel good. I got on a chair and carefully heaved the nested bowls down from the top shelf. Once I got them on the counter I absolutely could not believe what I saw.

Inside the smallest blue bowl, there was my missing jewelry box.

I blinked. There was my box. I blinked again. The box was still there. I opened the box and there, just like new, sat my wedding necklace along with my ring, bracelet and earrings.

I had found my wedding necklace!! I could wear it again for my anniversary in four days! I had it back and it hadn't been stolen from me after all.

I have wracked my brain trying to figure out how the jewelry box got in the mixing bowl. I have thought and thought and tried to remember. I just have no memory of putting it there and I have no idea what would have made me want to hide it in the first place, unless it was because at the time I lost the box I was so paranoid and suspicious of Brad already. I really don't know. It isn't like me to hide things like that. Ultimately that doesn't matter. What matters is that I have the necklace back and that I am using my mixing bowls.

What really matters is the memories, the many things I am thankful for - my loving husband, my family, my grandparents who were married for 58 years exactly, a set of unbreakable bowls and the glitter of crystal.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on finding your missing box. It's karma of some sort or other.
I know exactly which bowls you're in love with. My mother in law had a set and used them for more than 50 years. I think most of her children (she had 6) have managed to create their own set of bowls as well. We got ours at an antique sale. There is something very special about those bowls.

michelle said...

how wonderful! happy anniversary and happy thanksgiving to you! :)

Caroline said...

story made me choke up
glad you found your necklace, and happy anniversary!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear you got the jewelry box back. My mom has a set of those same bowls and I've looked at purchasing them myself but they've always been prohibitively expensive at the flea markets/antique shows where I've seen them.

Wide Lawns said...

I believe I paid 40$ for my set, which my grandmother was horrified at. I saved on shipping costs because the seller was local and I drove to pick them up. It was worth it though. My other grandmother has a different Pyrex set of the same kinds of bowls. Hers are all blue with a milkmaid and cow pattern of some sort. I hope she leaves them to me one day, though of course I'd rather have her around instead.

Wide Lawns said...

I just looked on eBay and there are quite a few nice sets for auction now at varying prices. I agree, that many are expensive.

Here's a link to one auction if you just want to look at a picture:


Anonymous said...

Do you think perhaps your hubs might have hid them for you? Thinking that your preoccupation with the things was getting a little out of hand? Just a thought.

bendalong said...

Congratulations! and a big hug. I totally understand the sentimentality you have with a few things. I am the same. :) Its the memories that are important but sometimes, just sometimes, having that piece of jewellery or trinket helps remember a little clearer.

Anonymous said...

First off, Happy Anniversary!!!!

Your blog was suggested to me on my Google Reader a few weeks ago and I've been hooked since then. When I got to the part in this post about the bowls I screamed, "Oh My God! I have those bowls!"

When my husband's grandmother passed away very shortly after we got married, we were given the mixing bowls, although I didn't realize that there is a green one. I have the other three though. I cherish these bowls and think of DH's grandmother each and every time that I use them.

What a great story!

Anne said...

Little surprises like that can make your day! In our home, things have a tendency to go missing and then show up months later in the strangest of places. We make no guesses on what can be happening...because we really don't want to know!

kerry said...

Happy anniversary!!!

I've got the smallest of those Pyrex bowls and I remember my mom using hers when I was a kid. Gorgeous.

How awesome that you found your box and your necklace!!!

I'm with you on "things" anchoring memories. Sometimes it's hard to give up things but gods, how they pile up.

KT said...

Aw :) So glad this story had a happy ending!

Jen Nuessen said...

I love those bowls. My mom had a set too and we loved the little blue one. It was the best for cereal.
As for the necklace, I love when things come back to you, that's always the best part.

dissed said...


JoeinVegas said...

Maybe your new (then) bowls were jealous of the sparklies and took them away for themselves?

redb said...

Growing up, we had the blue bowl. It was so special because it was different than any other bowl we had. It was the best for cereal! My Mom gave it to me the last time I visited and I was absolutely thrilled. I think I need to find the others in the set.

Congrats on your find and your anniversary!

Melanie said...

That's one of the best stories ever. The only one I like better is the one where your grandma's sister's good looks helped her family escape from the Nazis.

Thanks for warming my heart...... again.

Unknown said...

I have those bowls! I used to have the yellow one (purchased at a garage sale) and one of my kids broke it. I mourned it for a while but chalked it up to life and living with people. But I would talk about them and then I located the set at at nearby antique shop. But I didn't buy them.

Happily, my daughter (15 at the time) knew how much I coveted the set and bought them for me last year.

Congratulations on your find!

Delainie said...

So glad you found your necklace! I have attachments to things like that too. I have a bedsheet of my mom's that only I can use. I'm weird about it. She's still around, knows I stole her sheet, and has given up on getting it back. It's been washed a billion times but will always smell like Mom. :)

I checked Etsy for the bowls, if anyone's looking they have a lot! 17 pages of them, singles and full sets. I love them, I hope to have a set someday!

Joy said...

This IS a Thanksgiving Miracle. I just love the way you shared this with us... You may write to track down memories, but you MUST write because you are so good and talented at it. I love that you found the box, interesting that your treasures were all together.

Aren't you a bit regretful that you assumed it was your sisters cad? He's a cad but he didn't do this job.

Anonymous said...

I have the bowls too! I got them from my mom after I moved out, and I even have a fridge magnet of them that was part of a set from Blue Q. I also have a white Pyrex bowl with yellow dots on the outside that is the same size as the red bowl from the set. I use all of the bowls all the time--I have stainless bowls and plastic bowls, but when I bake the first thing I reach for is one of the Pyrex bowls. They're just the best!

Wide Lawns said...

Yes, I did feel badly that I thought it was my sister's ex boy-Fiend. When I told her this she said I shouldn't be sorry and that if I apologized she was going to throw me in the canal. He stole everything from her and some things from my parents' house so even though I feel badly about falsely accusing someone, given the circumstances it really was a reasonable assumption. But I did feel badly because unlike him, I am a decent human being and feel guilt when I do something wrong.

Also to the person who suggested my husband hid the box - there's no way. He wouldn't lie to me and he was so happy to give me the necklace that he wanted me to wear it every day. He does not think I have a preoccupation with things and he would never hide something from me and let me be that sad.

I liked the theory that the bowls took the box because they wanted something sparkly.

Maybe I have house elves.

ScouterRoger said...

Beautiful story. Glad you got your necklace back. Happy anniversary to you and your husband.
My wife and I will be celebrating 38 years on this Thanksgiving. We have a lot of memories to go over.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you hid them in your sleep or something, subconsciously trying to keep them safe. (I have known people to do this, in times of stress.) Or maybe Brad really *did* have designs on them, and someone or something was looking out for you.

Hey, it happens.

Sadi said...

Loved the story! Have a very happy anniversary, and a happy Thanksgiving!

PrudenceOctavia said...

what a lovely thanksgiving present! So glad you found them (I do that all the time!)

Unknown said...

Literally a wonder-ful story! Your experience beautifully illustrates the work I have been doing for eight years: the Objects and Memory Project. This documentary film (broadcast nationally on PBS last year) and educational initiative is aimed at helping people reflect on the otherwise ordinary things in our homes and museums that mean the most to us, because of their associations with people, places, and events. More info is available at www.objectsandmemory.org. (By the way, my mother had those bowls, too.)

Melanie said...

On this Thanksgiving Day, I just want you to know that I'm thankful for people like you who regularly bring joy to me and others.

Thanks for sharing your talent and your beautiful life.

Sarah663 said...

Oh my gosh, I too have the red, green, and blue bowls from my grandmother's house. I never knew there was a yellow one. Maybe I can find one too to complete my set. What a wonderful story - you just never know.

booda baby said...

This is possibly one of my favorite posts of yours. Of all time. All the ingredients and images and resolution were just right.

traca said...

This past week I gave up one of my most cherished possesions of my Grandmother's. I have had her wedding set for about 10 years and I occasionally would wear it. She told me it was going to be mine for as long as I can remember. This past week, my daughter's boyfriend asked our permission to marry Amanda. I gave him Grandma's wedding set instead of him buying a ring. Amanda loves the set and I know she would not want any other ring. It was one of the most painful things I have ever done.

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