We all have mental attics. That’s where you put the things you just can’t quite consign to the trash bin yet. Just like in real attics that some of us tend to fill and maybe every decade or so, we say we are going to clean them out!

If we lived in the same house for a long time we may come to find out that there are more things in the attic than there are in the rest of the house.

There are the things that we take with us when we move from one place to another, saying; “I’ll just stick this in the attic for now. When I have the time, I’ll sort it out.” Sometimes our children ask for a bit of attic space because they are moving a lot because of jobs and kids and other things that keep them in motion. Some attics have the debris of generations in them.

The attic of my mind certainly does.

I have huge boxes of Christmas decorations. I remember my earliest thoughts of Christmas. I knew there was a Santa Claus because one year, he left his hat behind. I was about 5 years old when I found it under the tree laying under some boxes. For at least the next eight years I truly thought that it was proof! Until I heard my aunts and my Mom talking about making a kid believe in Santa, “You hide a hat under the tree and when they find it they take it as proof of Santa Claus being real.” Christmas was never the same after that. No doubt that I would eventually have grown out of that belief….maybe by my 35th Birthday..?

Then there was the year my Aunt Peg decided to have a really fancy tree! She got one that was spray painted white and she decorated it all in blue. Blue lights, blue tinsel, blue tinted clear glass balls,,,,She placed it in her front parlor window and made sure the curtains were pulled back enough so that all the world could see it. Me and my parents lived upstairs so we got to see it all day and all night. She kept it lit up like Times Square! I don’t think she wanted to take that tree down until Memorial Day but my uncle Ed insisted that it was getting too dry and would be shedding all over the place.

That next Thanksgiving a friend of hers mentioned that someone she knew had seen the tree and was going to do the same thing for that Christmas.

That box of blue followed me around for years, Never did use them though.

It looked too much like the Artic Circle to suit me.

There’s a big box over here in the corner…let’s see what’s in it…

MATERNITY CLOTHES!!!! Wow! What was I keeping them for?

My youngest child was now 35 and I certainly was not looking for anymore after her! Now I remember….That old wive’s tale that if you get rid of your maternity clothes you’ll wind up getting pregnant again. I’m thinking that was from the old wives before the birth control pill. We had a neighbor across the street who wound up with 12 children. I know she never gave her maternity clothes away….they were all she had to wear. Now that I’m old enough to understand these things, (As my Mom always promised that I someday would be,) I wonder how she managed to get pregnant so frequently? Her husband held two full time jobs and on the weekends he was a pillar of the Knights of Columbus. I guess he had his own way of saying “Yes! Tonight! Before I get a headache!”

And over here,,,let me lift this box,,,OOOPPPHHHHSSSS! That must be the box of guilt that my Mom was always trying to lay on me. Very rarely did I ever let any stay on me for too long. I only took small pieces of it once in a while. I was going to save it to use on my kids but I just lost track of it.

Just as well, they wouldn’t have let me use it anyway.

There’s my Dollhouse! I remember when I got that, on my 12th birthday. My Aunt Bette and Uncle Bill gave it to me and I was a little bit insulted because I thought at that mature age I had outgrown those things. I kept it in the bottom of my closet and made believe that I didn’t pay any attention to it. Of course when no one was around to see me, it would come out and I would place the furniture in different ways and stick wallpaper on it’s walls. It came with plastic dolls that could bend at the waist and knees and elbows, A mommy doll, (Who dressed more like a grannie.) a Daddy doll who wore a suit and held a pipe. (My Dad didn’t smoke anything.) and two kid dolls, a boy and a girl., (As I was an only child, I put the boy doll in the plastic tree that came with it, and left him there.) My Mom gave the dollhouse away to the neighbor’s little girl when I got married. I was very mad at her for that.

I told her that I wanted to keep it for my own little girl to have.

When I had my little girl, Cathy, and she grew to the size where most little girls would be playing with a dollhouse….She was climbing trees and throwing mudballs at the kids who rode past the house on bikes. By the time my next little girl was born, the one who would have played with a dollhouse, I had forgotten all about it.

OH LOOK! Over by the window….it’s the green trunk! I haven’t see that in ages! My Mom used to store the summer curtains or the winter drapes in there. I put some things in there once. When my first boyfriend and I broke up. I took all the things that would remind me of him and put them under the curtains so I wouldn’t have to see them again. The blue and white sweater with reindeers on it that we gave each other for our first Christmas present. (I bet he used his to wash his car!) Pictures of him and his damn car,,,he loved cars the way I wanted him to love me. Unconditionally!

I wonder if he ever goes to the attic in his mind and looks for me?

I really hope he does,,,,and that he also has a big box of guilt handy! I know it’s been about 45 yrs since he broke my heart…but some things are not easily forgiven or forgotten. I hope his wife cracked his cars up on a regular basis. (hee, hee, hee)

There’s the floor lamp that my Mom gave me. I used that lamp for the longest time. I think I must’ve bought at least 10 shades for it. If it hadn’t shorted out and almost set the house on fire, I’d still be using it. I just can’t get around to throwing it out because I am convinced that one of these days, I will re-wire it. I might have to order parts from the Smithsonian Museum because it’s that old,,,,but it’s still got some hope left in it. Just like I do.

WOW! Look at that! It’s the tent that I bought when my son was supposed to go on a camping trip with the Cub Scouts. Never been used. I had to pay my rent late because I went and bought him that tent so he could go. His father and I had split by that time and I wasn’t getting any child support. I had three kids, a full time job and a sick Mom to take care of. I wasn’t going to tell him we didn’t have enough money to buy him a tent because he told me that all the other boys had their own tents. I don’t remember what lie I told the landlord but I did put in some overtime so I could pay the late charge on the rent. The Trip? Cancelled because of rain. It poured like a fire hose that weekend. By the time the next trip would have been scheduled we had moved. He never even asked about the tent. I would have let him set in up in the back yard just so he could say he went camping. Never said a word. How he turned into the strong, sober responsible man he is now is beyond my reckoning.

There’s the bird cage I bought at a yard sale. I was going to fill it with silk flowers as a decoration. Never did have a chance to decorate with it. One of those things you are convinced is the best idea you ever had, and then you look at it and go…”What the Hell was I thinking?” It only cost me three bucks and if I polished it up a bit it would look really great. I keep forgetting that my youngest daughter has birds, real ones, that would probably love the fancy brass cage. Maybe the next time she’s here I’ll ask her. If I remember that I have it.

I always have a project to start on. There’s my Uncle John’s chair for example. I was never too sure where ‘Old’ stops and ‘Antique’ begins.

I was going to fix that chair up and reupholster it. I still see my Uncle John sitting in it, feet on his ottoman, arms dangling off the sides and head thrown back with a gentle snore issuing. I’d say, “Uncle John? Are you asleep?”

(Well of course he WAS! Who snores when awake?) His head would come up and he’d blink his eyes… “No dear, I was just resting my eyes.” I loved that man and when he was gone, I loved that chair because it still held the imprint of him. If I reupholster it, it would be like I threw him out. Let his shade sit here and every now and then I’ll go up to the attic in my mind and visit with him.

We all need to visit that attic once in a while. Not to throw any of it out! Just to see it and remember how it figured in our lives. Open the window and let the sun fade anything it touches. Let the breeze blow the dust out.

Who ever that dust might be.....


© By Swampetta (SWAMPETTA@aol.com)

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