The fire roared for a little while while some of the last pieces of the cardboard Christmas decoration box escaped the burning barrel and floated on the cold breeze over the hardened snow. There goes the box that I had remembered for all of my life.
My mom stored the Christmas decorations over the alcove going down to the basement of my childhood home on the farm. There was a large door size hatch that was always in the elevated position unless it was time to get the decorations down or put them back. We could walk right on it and had to use a small ladder to access the space above an old wardrobe located in that alcove.
Dad, Mom or one of my brothers would get them down every year. When my brothers moved out that was something I did. There were about three or four cardboard boxes. The one I burned today was the box that had stood these many years holding decorations, moving from the farm to Mom’s place in Winneconne and since she is getting rid of more things she sent the remains home with me to be dispersed or used.
That box has to be older than I am an as I was trying to cut it up to burn it I must say they don’t make cardboard boxes like that anymore. The box was sturdy and hard to cut almost trying to give me a moment to slow down and consider its life.
When Mom sent it home with me recently she told me that she had ordered a set of dishes and that came in that box. The purple mailing tape always was I sign that that was one of the right boxes to grab down each year. The address written on it was Ruth Spiegelberg R2 RFD Omro, WI. There was no zip code. The R stood for route although we addressed mail then, RR2 as in Rural Route 2 and the RFD stood for Rural Free Delivery. Zip codes would come in 1963 and I don’t remember when the actual house number was used, but not until I was much older.
As I looked at the writing on it I saw the handwriting of two others. One was Mom’s lovely cursive and two different offerings from my hand. There was my printing and then my early cursive. The letters were individually presented for a word as I must have just been learning and not yet connecting the letters. Then there was my connection of cursive in a list of the contents of the box with a misspelling. The misspelled word was flocking spelled floking as part of white flocking.
I had just asked Rick if his mom had ever done flocked trees at Christmas. It was a mess, but it was so pretty and something I had never seen as a child. We would have a tarp on the floor and set the fresh tree on it. All I remember was there was this red sprayer that a person attached to the vacuum cleaner on blow and it would spray this white substance on the tree that would stick. I remember thinking how amazing it was.
Who would have expected that a sturdy cardboard box could evoke such a stream of memories?