I don’t think there is a yard sale that my Grams didn’t miss. During New York winters she moves from yard sales to flea markets. In 1980, I skipped and sometimes was dragged behind my Grams to every yard sale and every flea market. This year’s focus was miniature furniture. I learned not to question her logic. What appeared to be random shopping for random things resulted in a new updated living room or the hutch cabinet outfitted with matching china and stemware. One year I watch her collect blue and white stoneware. Plates, bowls and mugs, until she had a complete eight three piece collection to display in her tiny kitchen. Of course there was the flip side to this hobby. Stuff needs a place to go. I watched Grams shelve things into a small laundry room off the kitchen, until all the shelves were full and then the top of the dryer was full. Eventually over the years, the washer was moved to the kitchen and clothes were hung outside on the lines. Years later I would be told that many survivors of the Great Depression where hoarders, there was value and everything. Waste not, want not.
So all year the focus was on miniature furniture. There was an antique sewing machine, a mahogany dining table with chairs, a four poster bed and a kitchen table. I then watched Grams make table clothes, small bath towels with tiny pink flowers and linens. I watched the collection grow bigger every month. She would polish every piece and place them in shoeboxes. I was always impressed with the details put into every item. I wonder what type of person had that much patience and creativity to be able to create every item. I was convinced at one point that there was a factory of little elves making warehouse filled with manicure furniture.
As the year came to an end and Christmas season approached, my attention swayed from miniature furniture to all things birthday and Christmas. The tree went up on my birthday and then on Christmas Eve, my cousin and I was totally convinced that Santa was real after seeing Rudolph’s nose fly over the house. We watched all the Christmas specials from the claymations to the cartoons. We struggled to stay up, but Grams kept warning us that we are chancing missing out on Santa Clause coming to the house because we are trying to catch him. So we reluctantly went to bed and of course crashed from all the activity and excitement.
The following morning, my cousin woke up first and yelled at me to wake up. We ran downstairs to my Grandad already in his chair drinking his coffee appearing not to bothered by our excitement, but I caught a smirk on his face when he thought no one was looking. Grams was in the kitchen cooking breakfast, smells of bacon and biscuits in the oven was intoxicating.
Ron got a sweet race track set and was already assembling them in the middle to the tiny living room. After all the smaller gifts were opened, Grams solicited Grandads’s help to pull out a large box that was in the corner away from the tree. Both Ron and I stopped playing with our new haul to see what was in this box. It turned out not to really be a box, but fabric draped over something. Grams called me over and instructed me to close my eyes.
“Okay open them!”
I opened my eyes and to my surprise was a three story wooden doll house! I think this was the first time I experienced tears of joy. I could see an entire year of my Grams hard work manifest in front of me. I ran and gave her the tightest biggest hug that I could manage, then ran to Grandad and gave him the tightest hug.
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I love it”
The house was white with a grey roof. It was furnished with all the miniature furniture and widows trimmed with the curtains Grams made and beds with little quilts. And then Grandad plugged it in and all the lamps and wall sconces lit up along with a Christmas tree in the living room. I loved my gift, it was what I always wanted but didn’t know. But what I really loved was it was from Grams and Grandad.