**This post is a response to The Daily Post‘s prompt “Memories for Sale.”
Every year at Christmas time, Mom would drag that thing out of the basement. I’m sure it was a thing of beauty when it was new, but after years of Air Force moves and existing in the cigarette-smoke haze that defined my childhood home, it was dingy and quite odorous. But it still lit up, and it still played “Silent Night” as beautifully as it had in my first memory of it.
What was it?
It was a large musical church that my mom acquired at some point before I was born. It wasn’t ceramic, as many similar pieces today, but as I recall, it was made of (or at least covered in) a waxy material not unlike a candle. It was lighted from within, and its stained glass windows glowed warmly when it was plugged in. The roof of the church was covered in what looked to be quilt batting that had been sprinkled with glitter so that it looked like sparkling snow. It was very, very heavy, so wherever my mom placed it when it came out for the holidays, that’s where it stayed until it was time to put it away.
Even though that church wasn’t much to look at by the time I was old enough to truly appreciate it, I did love it, and it said “Christmas” more clearly than any other decoration we owned.
As life moved on, I married and moved out, then had my first child. My dad died when my son was a year old, and at that point, Mom decided to downsize. One of the first things she did was to weed out the old Christmas decorations. Among the things she wanted to get rid of was that old church. “Do you want this old thing? Because if you don’t, it’s either going to the church rummage sale or out in the trash.”
Did I want it? A part of me screamed, “Yes! That’s a piece of my childhood, and I want to keep it forever!” Another part of me–as well as my husband–said no. It was old. It was heavy. It was quite large, and we didn’t have the room for it. And yes, it still smelled of cigarette smoke and probably would for all of eternity, and with my allergies and my son’s asthma, it just wasn’t practical to keep it.
I really don’t know what she did with it. Did she take it to the church for the rummage sale (I always hoped she had), or did she put it out with the trash? She died before I could ask her for certain.
Still, every year I make the drive up to Millersburg for the church rummage sale, hoping against all odds that it might have ended up as part of someone’s collection, and that they would have grown tired of it or wanted to downsize and so brought it in to sell.
If I ever do find that old stinky church, I won’t hesitate to plunk down $5 or even $10 to bring it home with me. Where it belongs.