I’ve been avoiding the boxes in the attic, particularly those with my daughter’s name scrawled on their lids and sides. I know what’s in them, but I push them aside, not yet ready to remove the packing tape.
I know their contents like I know the whorl just to the right of where I parted her hair before I plaited it into two long braids that reached her waist. There are summer camp photos of girls with braces on their teeth grinning at the camera, arms encircling each other’s necks, and autograph albums with tiny hearts and smiley faces in various places. At the bottom, there are a few broken crayons, partially empty bottles of glitter glue, colorful pencil erasers shaped like puppies, kittens, and ducks, sheets of stickers with faint outlines where a few were removed, and, in all probability, an odd sock or mitten.
The haste of moving from one place to another, for a new job, a more comfortable home, relegated these treasures to a couple of cardboard cartons. They traveled from bedroom closet to basement, from basement to storage unit, from storage unit to rented condo, from rented condo to storage unit, then to another storage unit, and then to a garage, and from that garage, to the attic, intact. A long journey, spanning almost two decades.
My conscience tells me I should scavenge these boxes for non-edible Halloween favors, (there are some lovely temporary tattoos of unicorns, and flowers, and flocked stickers of a variety of animals that could bring joy to a child whose imagination is ignited something besides chocolate) but I’m afraid they’ll be discarded, or worse, confiscated by parents and sold on Ebay as “collectibles.” I push the memory of my mother’s favorite holiday table decorations on a flea market vendor’s table from my mind, and open the boxes.
Those little treasures, packed away for years, deserve a better fate than to be tossed in the trash, or perhaps worse, to be hermetically sealed in some aspiring entrepreneur’s closet, in anticipation of luring some fetishist, who’ll pay big money for a “My Little Pony,” who a four year-old girl once kissed on the nose each night before her parents tucked her into bed.
Despite my fears and misgivings, I will give away the stickers, the stamps, the small toys at Halloween, hopeful that when another little girl dumps the contents of her orange plastic pumpkin, she’ll find among the tiny chocolate bars and bags of colorful candies, something rare and precious.