March 15, 2012

memory keepers

i've had a love affair with glass jars or bottles for as long as i can remember. mason jars, baby food jars, smucker's jam jars from the 80s!

while my mom always seemed to have her fair share of glass vessels throughout the house and my childhood, jars remind me of my great-grandmother and her kitchen. it would seem a natural association. she was born in 1912. i'm not that young. while i was too young for her to show me, i know that before she was too old, she made preserves and proof of that was all over the kitchen that my grandmother and mother knew as a child.

it's not so much her canning and preserving skills, though. in that kitchen, in a cupboard on a long island full of cabinets and drawers, were jars filled with wonder.

some had lemon drops in them. others had grown-up stuff like rubber-bands and paper clips. one held tiny treasures, too immeasurable to speak. i remember there being really cute, tiny toys - trinkets and memories of years gone by, children grown too fast. miniature cracker jacks joke books, a mini bible, maybe a rosary. marbles. there were a pair of tiny, barbie-sized ballet slippers made of soft pink rubber, held together with a satin string. my greatgrandmother died when i was thirteen and at some point, either earlier in my life, or at that time, i inherited those little slippers whose whereabouts are now unknown.

it's possible that they are still in a box in office storage. i think that i've unpacked everything that had been stored for the last six years but perhaps not. upon unpacking what i had deemed worth saving after each purging session, i discovered that i'd missed all of my little glass jars and bottles. some empty, some filled. some fancy, some plain. i'd collected new ones in those six years but it was nice to start displaying the old ones again.

the other day i started thinking about my great-grandmother's jars. the one that once had the ballerina slippers in it, in particular and i realized something much like when i realized that dad's are awesome and necessary and i love my husband for giving our children something that neither of us had, but dad's are still different. they have this awesome nonchalance about the whole thing and i wonder if when they happen to be dressing their child (or maybe, on that even rarer occasion, when they're putting away their child's laundry) does it occur to them that life cycles and seasons are closely tied? that each passing of time comes with it's own outgrown clothing, marking the growth of your babies in too tangible a way, too real and ever-present is the truth that one day they will grow up completely?

i realized that while i still have plenty of tiny, empty vessels laying about (and a collection of empty baby food jars in the garage for far-off "craft projects with the kids") the function and purpose of the jars around my home are taking on a new purpose.  jars full of knick-knacks and batteries live on the counter, bouncing balls and choking hazards sit in jars on top of a bookshelf, i use mason jars to stock my pantry. my old collection of small bottles and jars (bottom left) lines my bathroom window, the new collection makes use of larger jars and i imagine that one day i just won't find a place for all the wayward toys and small objects. they will stay where they are, well-contained reminders.


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