I come from a long line of fixers. My father was a fixer, my mother was most definitely a fixer, and I suspect a grandparent or two had the affliction.
When I was younger in a household of four females supported by child support, alimony and student loans, I probably didn't take note of my mother's uncanny ability to take something not quite right, or down right broken, and transform it back to a reasonable facsimile of its original state. Sometimes, the object would be magically transformed into something else, another useless, or in some cases, a useful object.
My mother's serious "Goodwilling" days began when I foolishly turned a full somersault in our cozy Mountain View living room, cleanly slamming the delicate arch of my eleven year old foot into sharp, square top corner of Mother's solid oak sewing machine cabinet. The result, besides a broken bone I will never forget, and the disastrous news I could not attend the school dance, was the need for crutches.
The price of a brand spanky new crutched at the local Rexall was far too dear. Thankfully, Mom recalled a pair of wooden crutches in the window of the Goodwill store. That first excursion also yielded a small, starter set of Nancy Drew books, which would be the very beginning of a passion for reading and books that would last my lifetime.
We three girls were fairly confident Mom's need to collect was a direct repercussion of her farm-poor childhood during the depression when shoes, butter and other common place items we now take for granted were scarce indeed. She wasn't the kind of hoarder that can shock and amaze on the "Buried Alive" shows, discounting her refrigerator. Mom simply did not want to run out of something, be it mayonnaise or tuna. Or paper towel. Or tennis shoes. Besides, they were on sale.
Mom saw the beauty in almost every item in all her routine used and reclaimed stores, way before it was fashionable. A porcelain cow creamer would strike her fancy, even though one if it's hooves was chipped. Fearlessly, Mom would purchase the critter and bring it home where the white spot would be painted black, and it would be placed on the shelves with the other society rejects wearing their badge of repair and a second chance. Admittedly, we all groaned a bit, hopefully never audibly, at the piles of her projects, dejected dolls with missing hair or clothing, a shirt missing a button, a couch pillow needing a new felt flower to cover a tear. We would all feign delight when one of these treasures showed up under the Christmas tree with our name on it. After all, she's your Mum, you gotta love her. You make allowances.
As it turns out, I am my mother's daughter. I have way too much stuff, from plants to statues to fabric. My beloved husband built me my own storage behind his garage for my craft room, and never said a word when my projects overflowed into his garage. Out of self defense, he built himself another addition, the man-cave. Poor guy. But, I draw the line at broken items. No, thank you, I do not have the time. I know perfectly well that if I do not reduce, drastically reduce, the storage areas and craft supplies, when I kick the bucket, my minimalist daughter will not blink twice during the largest estate sale this town has ever seen.
So. Looking for Christmas presents this year at Goodwill, (family tradition: buy at Goodwill for a White Elephant exchange, $20 limit) I spot this box. A little wooden box with a sliding top, reminiscent of the box that held the prettily painted building blocks of my childhood. It's only a dollar, and filled with puzzle pieces. My grandson would love it. Home it goes. We find out later pieces are missing, of course, but my daughters says, "If you can take the labels off, it would make a great box for Landon's rock collection."
Here I am at the kitchen sink, ever so carefully, using all my mother's fix-it knowledge that bled or spilled over into my own brain, removing the label and making the box new and beautiful again, sans the puzzle. It occurs to me, here I am fixing a small, cheap Goodwill item and making it grand again, and, it's going to be a gift at Christmas. Oh no. Oh dear God. Help me . . .
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