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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Magic Suitcase

This suitcase always seemed to hold a little magic for me. It had belonged to my Great Aunt Gwen, for whom I am named. My Grandmother always kept it up in the closet out of reach of small hands that may damage or dirty the contents. It came out rarely and only when really needed.....during a long winter vacation when cabin fever started to set in, an extended period of bed rest due to illness, or times when cheering up was much needed. She would explain to me that the suitcase had been her sister's and the contents it now held had been my mother's. There were rules of handling and gently playing with what was inside. 
I was not to open the latches by myself because she was afraid my little fingers would be hurt. Also, I don't think she really wanted me to know how to maneuver the "old-fashioned" clasps. It helped keep a little of the mystery.
 After listening to the rules and watching her snap open the closures, ta-da......the contents were revealed. Doll furniture that had belonged to my mother. There is something to be said about keeping some items for few and far between moments. Because when the lid opened, it always seemed like a magical moment to me. 
 Beds and dressers, fireplaces, kitchen sinks, bathtubs, a toilet, lamps, bookshelves, even a grandfather clock. At one point in time there had been a doll house and dolls that would be brought out also. Now, all that is left is some of the furniture and oh-so-amazing accessories such as milk pitchers, fire irons, and a hand mirror. I hadn't seen this suitcase in ages and didn't even know if it was still around. So, you can imagine my 
delight one day this summer (when my girls were about to kill each other and driving me crazy) when my mother came down from her attic with the magic suitcase. She put down a quilt  and made them sit patiently while we explained the history and slowly, I'm sure painstakingly slow for the girls, opened the latches. They were sitting on their knees, bouncing and clapping even though they had no idea if toys, a snake, or a bomb were going to come out. If only I could have captured their faces when it was opened. To say they were delighted would be an understatement! The joy was immense. The older daughter took careful time to take out each piece, examine it, ask questions, and lay it to the side. She split the furniture up between she and her younger sister for a marathon playing session. 
 The original dolls have long since fallen apart and moved on to "a better place" (not sure what that would be for dolls but it sounds nice). Amazingly enough, Polly Pockets, and Disney Princess dolls fit the furniture. Don't Jasmine and Naveen look cozy hanging out with Polly and her friend? 
 I can't explain the warmth it brought to my heart to see the girls playing with these items which had once brought me (and I'm sure my mother before me) many hours of fun and entertainment. I watched them play very carefully and then place the pieces back in the magic suitcase. I listened to them asking my mother exactly how old each piece is and was glad to answer, yes, when they asked if they would be able to play with them the next time we are at Gramcracker's house. (Gramcracker is what they call my mother.....that is a whole different post) 

Sometimes, I worry about living on the other side of the world. I worry about our children having roots and a connection to family. Then a moment like this comes along. It makes me realize that roots and connections are made and held in so many different ways. Our children have roots and an incredible connection to their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They bond with them the instant we are all in a room together, they have stories of times with family, and now they have the magic suitcase too.

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