While I waited for the Laundry Maven to run my bath this morning, I descended on two small cardboard boxes that were tucked behind the side table in our bedroom. They had been there since Christmas time. Remnants of wrapping presents on Christmas Eve. I had hauled a card table upstairs to our bedroom and set it up in front of the TV. Christmas cooking shows sounded like good company while wrapping gifts. For three hours. I had scoured the house for gifts that I had squirreled away. Much like the rodent, surely, I had forgotten where several of these excellent hiding spots were. In February, I’m still looking for the cutest talking Minnie Mouse that I know I ordered by mail for my niece in Iowa. Minnie is 16 inches high. And still hibernating in some cozy, save corner. (I ordered a replacement Minnie and had it shipped directly to my niece.)
One of the cardboard boxes behind the table contained coconut shells carved out to hold tropical drinks. Alas, that box has actually been hanging out behind the table since July when we hosted our Midwest Bed & Breakfast friends at our house. I had used the coconuts to decorate each of their bedside tables. Cardboard hula girls glued on straws rounded out the bottom of the box. I returned the coconuts to my great-grandfather’s trunk and tossed the rest.
The eclectic nature of that trunk would make my great-grandfather’s head spin. Twelve coconuts; two coconut bras – one Bill made & one I bought; a pair of satin pajamas my uncle brought back from Vietnam for me when I was perhaps five; Grandma Murphy’s favorite pair of purple satin pajamas she wore into her late 80’s; and a blue boa – that’s just what’s visible on the top layer. They all lie in wait for the next opportunity to emerge and to be useful.
The second cardboard box was small and stout in weight for its exterior size. Peeking in, I knew immediately why I had shoved this one behind the table: three solid rubber chicken-size eggs in an unopened plastic bag, with packing bubble, packing slip, and return slip all intact. I let out a very audible groan.
My sister and I had commiserated about a week before Christmas: We are nearly done shopping, but we had both gotten caught up in a flurry of nonsensical questions: “Is it all equal?” “Did we buy enough?” Both of our kids are at ages where they want bigger gifts – not lots of smaller ones to fill space under the tree. For my sister, this was her daughter’s first year of wanting a bigger gift. My sister confessed her struggle not to add to the pile. I knew exactly what she was talking about as I too had the same anxiety over the impending last-day-to-order-on-line-for-free-delivery quickly approaching. I curbed my anxiety by ordering a few more things from a catalog the boys don’t even look at. But in my book, they would be fun gifts – just to round out the tree skirt.
Up to those last minute purchases, I had kept inventory of my Christmas present purchases. In my daily notebook, I had a section written in the equivalent of Egyptian hieroglyphs. So intensely coded that I it took me a few looks to unravel them myself. When this episode of binge-buying hit, I jotted nothing down, for I didn’t need to because I was so near the end.
That wrapping session felt a little like Christmas morning to me as I opened all the cardboard boxes that had arrived over the past few weeks. Then, I opened the rubber eggs. I thought I had opened a box delivered to the wrong address, but there my name was in black and white. I indeed had ordered three rubber chicken eggs. Sadder was the fact that I didn’t know what I was actually missing. I still don’t. And here the eggs are… still in my house.
Many retailers give us through January to return merchandise that doesn’t fit or that is the wrong color. I need through the end of February to return stuff I just feel embarrassed about ordering. And now, with their story told, they can be returned – hopefully. If not, I’ll be looking for creative ways to use rubber eggs. I am dreading that possibility.
My bathtub nearly overflowed with the rubber egg distraction.
P.S. Have you met the Laundry Maven? She's a character near and dear to my heart: The English Laundry Maven.