There are pieces of furniture and other household objects I own that conjure specific and cherished memories for me.
I have a large, light wood hutch, that I recently loaned to a good friend. That hutch was a big part of my years living with my parents. The hutch is about eight feet tall. It has shelves inside the top part and drawers in the bottom section. My mom covered the entire inside with pink geometric/striped wallpaper. I kept school supplies in the shelves and sweaters in the drawers.
The hutch is significant because it was located right behind my desk from around fourth grade on through college. (I lived at home during college). I spent a lot of time at my desk doing schoolwork. And I spent a lot of that time leaning back onto the back legs of my desk chair and resting the back of the chair against the hutch. I don’t know why, but it helped me think.
My mother hated it because I was ‘dinging’ the beautiful wood of the hutch. There is, in fact, some small, barely visible marks on the hutch commemorating my bad habit. My mother would yell at me whenever she saw me ‘leaning’. So I would try to quickly sit up normally whenever I heard her coming. I don’t know why this silly ritual has stuck with me – maybe it’s just the sheer number of years I did it.
Another piece of furniture from my childhood room is very dear to me. It’s a big, soft, overstuffed armchair. I used to sprawl over it in elementary school when I was reading, which was a lot. I also sat in that chair all through high school and college, reading endless books for school.
When I married and got an apartment of my own, that chair came with me. It went into the baby’s room. I spent countless hours in that chair nursing my children and singing to them. I nursed two years with my first child and one year with my second. As the kids got older, that was the chair for reading bedtime stories and snuggling.
That chair has followed me from my own childhood through both of my kids’ childhoods. If I have grandchildren, I hope that chair will be part of their lives too.
Another sentimental object for me is an orange and brown soup tureen that my grandmother kept on her dining room table in her CT cottage. That tureen meant ‘grandma’ to me. After Grandma died, I had the tureen on my dining table in CT (I actually used my grandmother’s dining table from CT as well). It was there for many years.
Then I had my first child, David. He was born prematurely and weighed four pounds two ounces at birth. He was so tiny, we took lots of photos of him illustrating how small he was. We have one picture of him, in my comfy nursing chair, sitting in his Teddy Bear’s lap! We also have a photo of David IN the soup tureen. Since then, the tureen reminds me of my teeny tiny baby as well as my beloved grandmother.
One other piece of furniture has a vivid story attached to it. The guest room in my mom’s CT house had two twin beds with beautiful dark wood headboards and footboards. They were made in the 1930’s as part of a New Deal program (WPA?) to get people back to work.
When I was a kid and had a sleepover date, which was often, my friends and I would sleep in the beautiful yellow and white guest room. We used to climb up on the footboards and ‘dive’ onto the beds. One day, when I was about nine years old, I dove and heard a loud ‘crack!’. The slats under the mattress had broken. I was afraid to tell my mom so I slept in a contorted position for a while. I finally told her, she had the bed fixed and she switched it with the other bed.
A year later I had a sleepover date and was telling my friend about the diving and the broken bed, I decided to demonstrate the dive, figuring that nothing would happen if I only did it once. So I did. ‘Crack!’. Again. The other bed broke. Now I was really scared to tell my mom. But I eventually confessed and the other bed was fixed too. I never ‘dove’ again.
These beds are now in my guest room. I even decorated the room in the same color scheme and style as my mom’s old guest room. I added some modern touches to the early American country style décor. But it was the warm feel of the original room that I was going for. I achieved it and it is a reminder of a happy childhood place – and fun childhood memories.
There was also a Tiffany style lamp in the guest room with two mottled green and yellow glass shades. The lamp was actually made at a factory down the street from the original Tiffany factory. My friends and I were afraid of the dark so we left the lamp on at night. The only problem was that the two greenish shades looked to us like ‘cat’s eyes’ glaring at us in the dark. So we had to decide between being scared by the dark or by the ‘cat’s eyes’. We stuck with the ‘cat’s eyes’.
I still have that gorgeous lamp in my living room, with many other pieces from my mother’s house. The lamp doesn’t scare me anymore. It just brings back memories of childhood and the magnificent houses I grew up in.
It’s nice to be surrounded by things that conjure happy memories. Which is why I love my house so much.