My mom’s home office heavily inspired our family room. Her room of piles was always my favorite as a child, and while you would think it was all about the books, that wasn’t the only draw. On those shelves, the same shelves that held all her research, all her books on feminism, all her books on politics, all her books on literature and violent crimes (the woman is obsessed) also sat an assortment of really bad gifts.
A pinch pot in the shape of a square with a giant M in blue.
A plastic, wind-up stained glass “window” with a Bible verse. Cranking the key set off a magnet on the inside, which is what made the white, misshapen dove fly around to a tinny rendition of Amazing Grace.
A trio of mice wearing formal attire playing instruments in a symphony.
A resin pot of pansies, broken.
A stuffed Precious Moments wind-up doll holding a crayon and a note that reads, “I luv you mommy.”
And worse. Or better. It depends on your perspective. They still sit on her shelves.
Each gift received a place of honor, and it was a great source of pride for me to walk in and see mice playing bass next to Jean-Paul Sarte…or a book of mugshots. I didn’t understand why she would clutter up her pretty office with my cheap gifts, but it made me happy. That’s what I wanted from our family room: a room that was me and them and us.
A room where I can proudly display a card that says, “I hope the sith don’t catch you, mom!”
Next to a pot that grows flower-sons and suns who “Love me to pieces.”
I understand now why my mom gushed over scuttling doves and bad pottery. More than anything, I want the boys to look back and know I appreciated every googly-eyed doll made from pipe cleaners. I want them to remember they napped in rooms with open windows under the watchful eyes of handmade gifts more priceless than the fanciest of leather bound books.