November 22, 2012 by jilltatara
When I started thinking about writing a Thanksgiving blog entry, I didn’t want to go over three of the things most often mentioned as blessings during this time of year: friends, family, having a job. I am incredibly grateful for all of these, but for this post I will examine the three inanimate objects for which I am so thankful.
As a little girl, my absolute best friend in the whole world was my Raggedy Ann doll. We did almost everything together. And, when I was at school and couldn’t be with her, I constantly drew Raggedy Anns in chalk on the blackboard.
I grew up and grew disinterested until I started having kids of my own. Watching my son with his stuffed animals made me think of my dear old doll and I wondered what had happened to her. Apparently, my nieces had inherited some of my old toys and they took care of her until I wanted her back. I remember so clearly being at my mom’s house a few years ago and seeing my niece get out of her car holding Raggedy Ann. MY Raggedy Ann! I actually squealed.
She now carries the battle scars of being so heartily loved. Her apron has been lost, she’s missing an arm, on the remaining arm there is a round stain on her inner palm – from a small band-aid I had put on her after I dropped her on the floor when I was about six. Her remaining red yarn hair is tangled and her chin has been ripped and carefully sewn back up. She is sitting on my dresser as I write this – along with a newer Raggedy Ann that I bought on Ebay when I thought my Raggedy Ann had been lost forever. And now, whenever I watch Toy Story 2 and I see Jesse sing “When Somebody Loved Me”, I think of how grateful I am that I have all these wonderful childhood memories with that doll, and that I have her still.
My second beloved inanimate object is much larger and much more public. In my hometown there are amazing buildings by such luminaries of architecture as Eero and Eliel Saarinen, Richard Meier and Harry Weese. But no building in Columbus, Indiana warms my heart more than the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library, designed by I.M. Pei.
I spent a large part of my childhood and adolescence in that building. I have been going there for so long and have been there so many times that it’s like a brick and mortar part of me. Going down the side stairs to the children’s section with my mom was a weekly event. And the tilted tables, where I first started looking at picture books, are still there. Every era of my youth was filled with the books from that library. I can still map out the exact locations of the Nancy Drews I read in elementary school, the Agatha Christies and the art books I read in junior high, and, from my surly teen years, the philosophy section.
I feel like I know every brick of that building. The design is clean and modernist, the ceilings high, the benches comfortable. The curved concrete which runs along the staircase to the lower level made it seem like you were walking alongside a giant fossil. It’s reminiscent of the Henry Moore sculpture in the front plaza of the library that always reminded me of a dinosaur hip bone. The whole look of the exterior, along with the Moore sculpture, looks so simple, so steadfast, like it has always been there. It has always been there for me.
The last object on my list is my Elsa Peretti silver Sevillana pendant. Now, before you say, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe how vapid and shallow she is for holding a necklace in such high esteem.”, hear me out. When I was in my ninth month of pregnancy with my son Jack, I heard about the wonderful modern invention of what is now known as the push present. It is basically a present that the husband gets the wife and gives to her at the hospital after she has a baby. I thought this a very civilized and wonderful idea. I saw the necklace in a magazine and ripped out the page. I even went to Tiffany’s to try on different sizes and see which one I liked best. Lucky for Paul I preferred the smallest, least expensive version. I even wrote down the item number and price to make sure my husband would buy the right one.
Well, he did buy the right one and I love it and wear it often. In addition to getting the necklace right after becoming a mother for the first time, there’s another reason this necklace is so special to me. While I nursed my son, and, later, my daughter, their little fingers would find that necklace I was wearing and hold fast to it, tugging and playing with it the whole time they ate. It became a ritual of mealtime. When the kids got a bit older, the necklace served as a convenient teething ring perfectly sized for their little mouths. There are teeth marks all over it. After I recently told the kids that story and showed them the teeth marks, my daughter Elsa has started coming up to me whenever I’m wearing it, putting the necklace in her mouth and biting it. More teeth marks. More reasons to love that necklace.
These three objects, for which I am so grateful, remind me of friendship, my love of books (and how my mom facilitated that love by taking me to the library so often), and my blissed-out love of the job of being a mother. I guess I did write about my friends, my job and my family after all. I am a lucky, thankful girl.