Friday, May 2, 2008

Gifts That Never Stop Taking

When we registered for our wedding, Hubby and I used the scanner like a magic finger. . .

I want that, that, and that.

That would be nice to have.

I’ve always wanted one of these.

POOF! Be careful what you wish for.

We never really thought about what we would do with all the presents if we actually got everything we asked for. When we arrived home from our honeymoon, we opened a whole room full of presents from everyone in our lives that loved us enough to buy off our outlandish registry. We opened china place setting and iced tea makers, crystal saltshakers and Dremmel tools. Of course we didn’t actually have any place to put any of it. For the next several months we created cubbyholes to stow away wedding gifts that we rarely used.

At the same time that we opened every small appliance known to mankind, we didn’t open flatware, plates, and glasses. The same couple that went snap happy with the scanner (that would be us) had to wait for more holidays before our parents were able to fill in those gaps. The fault certainly didn’t lie with all our relatives who dutifully bought off our registry. The fault lay with us and we slept in that bed. You know the bed. All our fine china was stowed under it.

In addition to the wedding presents, we also cleared out all our stuff from our parents’ homes: all the stuff we saved from childhood, the dining room set Boyd’s parents no longer used, all our dressers and an extra queen sized bed in case we had company. Our first apartment was a nice two bedroom, two bath. We had a kitchen bigger than our present house. Somehow, within a matter of months, we only had walkways. Our living room furniture was crammed into the dining area and our big dining room set filled the living room. So did the upright piano neither of us could play and the eight Ramada chairs I bought when the hotel remodeled. You couldn’t actually walk around the table to sit down. Company climbed from one chair to the next to get to their seats. And I can’t forget to mention our bikes. With nowhere left to hang them, we hung them over the piano and the dining room set. “Watch your head as you climb to your seat . . .”

We were not paying for a place to live at that time. We were paying for a place to store our stuff for our future. We just happened to sleep in our storage facility. In September, after marrying in July, we found out (surprise!) we were going to have a baby. Our first thought was not one of joy. Our first thought was, “Where are we going to put it?”

In the coming months, the same relatives who loved us enough to buy from our wedding registry also loved us enough to shower us with baby gifts. We stacked them up on top of everything and hung them from our bikes on the ceiling. We moved some of our dressers until we could squeeze a crib at the foot of our bed. I spent the same amount of hours moving our belongings from one place to another that most people spend working a second job. I didn’t feel like a “messy” person, because everything was orderly and clean, but I did feel exhausted and depressed. I felt useless, like my entire life was being wasted moving boxes from one place to another the way a child moves the puzzle pieces from one square to the next until suddenly a smiley face takes shape. I never saw the smiley face.

Looking back, the tragedy was not that we were in debt and got pregnant sooner than we planned. The tragedy was that we were holding so tight to our future that we forgot to enjoy what life brought us: a beautiful child, full of smiles and kisses, bright eyes and big hugs. We didn’t even have time to play with him because we were so busy moving boxes from one place to another.

To be continued . . .

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