Monday, August 29, 2011
Morning Thanks--treasures from an old chest
Once upon a time, my wife told me that one of her self-appointed tasks, once she "retired," from her job, was going to be to begin to slim our wealth of personal possessions, of stuff. We've been married for almost forty years and lived in this house for the last 26. We're not hoarders, at least not by TV standards, and neither are we fanatic shoppers. No matter. In all that time, we've accumulated stuff whose sheer bulk makes even us gasp.
I don't think she'll mind my saying that at this self-appointed task she's been, well, something of a sluggard, not that I blame her. In the last year, it's fair to say we haven't added much ballast to this ship of state, but neither has she tossed much of it overboard--and there is junk, after all. I'm no paragon of virtue myself. I'm not into public flogging here--it's an awful and tedious job and I'm just glad that I'm not the one who signed up to do it
However, last weekend she started. . .upstairs, discovering all kinds of things we didn't know we had, like an anthology of Boys Life stories that says "Jimmy Schaap, from Mom and Dad, Christmas, 1959"--I'm quite sure that fat collection of stories was my very first book. How can you throw stuff like that away?
She did find things she didn't need, things we didn't need, things that had zero nostalgic value, so we did lighten our load a bit anyway. But when she decided to get rid of a big blue chest I hadn't looked into for years, I knew I had to unload its cargo and I knew what was inside--all kinds of ancient things from my high school and college years, old personal stuff I couldn't throw away years and years ago. Amid all the detritus in that chest, I found three wonderful letters--pure treasures.
They were letter from her, before we were married. I'd quote some of the blessed lines, but that wouldn't be smart. Suffice it to say that the sweet nothings in those missives weren't nothings at all. When I opened the birthday card she sent me six weeks after we dated the first time, steam still wafted from what was within, thick as heavy breathing. Really
Generalizations are tough, but it seems to me that being coy about such things has been fairly standard female behavior at least since Andrew Marvell's famous poem, allowing the male to be the aggressor, playing hard-to-get, parrying her lover's moves with a twinkling eye and a fetching smile--the kind of sweet dalliance at the heart of a thousand romantic comedies.
But those letters don't lie. What they chronicle is that, once upon time, she was surely as anxious for the nuptials as her husband-to-be, and it wasn't just the cake that made her count the days
It's not something you can do once a month, really, but after this last weekend, I'd be the first to say that reading old love letters is an activity that's dang good for a marriage--if you like twinkling eyes and fetching smiles, that is.
And I do
And so does she.
My morning thanks?--treasures from an old chest.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 7:06 AM