It’s Christmas time. A time of good cheer, merriment and warm fuzzy feelings. I do not forget the reason for the season. The birth of my Savior. But I also am inclined to enjoy the warmth of all that the season offers. Friends, family, food, frivolity and–decorating. More so in years past, but still I trudge out to the storage shed and retrieve the priceless family decorations. Now why is this of such importance to write about? What is it that makes this annual event noteworthy? It’s the blue box.
Let me start here. Finding themselves with three small kids, the family station wagon, the invent of cherry Kool-Aid, boxes of 64 colored crayons, a big dog, leaky diapers and rubber pants, my parents in the 1950’s had a need for seat covers for that station wagon. In the 50’s Fingerhut was a big thing. A mail order company who’s specialty was plastic bubble seat covers. Here is where the blue box started its amazing life. When my parents, in 1955, a very good year, ordered brand new protective seat covers for their car.
The seat covers were indeed plastic, clear plastic, with little raised square globs of plastic for decoration and breathability. I feel they were there to discharge static electricity accumulated by your rear end sliding to and fro across the seats, assuming it was not summer when any bare skin would adhere to the plastic causing a ripping sound when you tried to exit the car. Apparently this was what was available before nice soft sheepskin seat covers or seat covers with material that makes your seats look like black and white dairy cows or the ones that let you sit on Betty Boop’s face… Wandered off again.
This is not about the seat covers, as attractive as they were! It is about the box they came in. Dark cobalt blue with little gold stars on it and Fingerhut scrawled across it in big golden letters. A great heavy duty box about three feet long, 18 inches wide and 8 inches deep with a waxy coated bottom and lid that lifts off. Apparently all that plastic was hard to fold and keep corralled during the trip from Minnesota to Nevada in 1955. Now 1955 was a long time ago so why can I be so precise about this one box out of many boxes that have crossed my path in years gone by? Because I still have that box, and still use it. It houses Christmas decorations and comes out every year. It is well traveled. I’m going to estimate, less the original miles from Minnesota to Nevada, this box has traveled a good mile to a mile and a half going from basements and other storage hidey holes of various family homes, to the living room before Christmas and back into storage after the celebration for the past 59 years. The box was handed to me by my mother when they moved to Pittsburg, Texas when they retired and moved out of the snow. A snowless dream I’m sure nearly all of us have.
Now it’s my honor to slip slide though snow and ice to bring the box of family Christmas’ gone by into my house. Which I did this very week. I can still read the label, yellowed and curled on the edges. That is how I know it was from Minnesota. When it originally came I was not able to read. I was not able to do much more than gurgle, spit up and use those rubber pants in 1955. But now I can run my fingers across the name hand written by a Fingerhut employee on the label. Addressed to my dad on Greenbrae Drive, Sparks, Nevada. Just a few blocks west of the bowling alley and Uncle Happy’s toy store. A store we sought to go each Friday night, bowling night for my parents. But especially at Christmas time with all the goodies any kid could imagine. Now that was a toy store. Think Toys-R-Us before steroids.
Now that Blue Box holds not only some of my maiden Russell family treasures but now some Machacek family treasures have been allowed to be nestled inside. Like his grandparents’ hand blown glass ornaments from the old country. The little plastic Rudolph’s that my husband remembers from is childhood. My favorite? My mom’s little ceramic bells that came out when It’s A Wonderful Life was released. In that movie the big line was “Whenever a bell rings an angel gets their wings.” So I make sure to ring those little bells every year as I place them on our tree. Maybe that is why it is important to ring in the New Year. Ting-a-ling.
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts and opinions with her at firstname.lastname@example.org