Always look in the box

This is the story about a little girl who would admire a tiny hourglass in her grandma’s kitchen. It was over towards the wall phone and fridge. Did grandma keep it on a shelf or atop the fridge? This is where my memory fails me. I never asked her where she got it. Was it a gift? It only recently occurred to me that she probably bought it as a souvenir in Mexico or it was given to her as a gift from somewhere more exotic than southwestern Ontario. Anyway, as a child, it was the hourglass. A wooden hourglass with hand painted flowers and filled with hot pink sand. Magic. She’d get it out when we played a game that required a time limit. I wasn’t so great at focusing on games. In fact, it was a point of conversation for family members to discuss how little Melanie couldn’t sit long enough to finish any game. Except maybe Uno. Maybe I was more focused on the exquisite perfection of the sand timer.

Moving the story forward a few decades. When my grandma died, I inherited the hourglass. Yes, it was that important to me. I even scrapbooked about it, along with other items that had been passed down to me. I should look for that layout. Then a few years ago, I noticed the timer missing from its spot. Panic. Lamenting. Ruminating. Sadness. Grief. I couldn’t go more than a few weeks without wondering aloud where oh where had my hourglass gone. Did someone take it? I built scenarios of people sneaking off with it. Had my hourglass ended up in the wrong hands and is now lying broken and shattered in a landfill?

So, last month around Halloween, I asked my ancestors to help me find it. I mean, why not, right?

The other day I was in the basement with my husband trying to make sense of all the clutter we’ve collected over the years. I was scavenging for things to give away. I wasn’t planning to part with any of the numerous games stacked on two IKEA bookshelves but then I decided there must be something there which we’ll no longer play. I found two boxes and handed them to my husband as I instructed him to look carefully inside. I said “You never know, this might be where we placed those lost lottery tickets worth millions”. One year, we were given lotto tickets and couldn’t find them by the time we’d traveled home and unpacked our bags. Sadly, there was nothing extra in the boxes. With one final glance at the shelves, I grabbed a kids game that I didn’t even remember that we had. I couldn’t imagine we’d play it again. I was about to hand it to my husband when I remembered what I’d just told him. So, I peered inside and started making very odd loud noises. My husband rushed to my side in great alarm. Was I ill? What nightmare had I just found? No, no, it was just my beautiful hourglass nestled inside the box.

I find it remarkable that right before I found it I’d given myself exactly the instructions I needed to look carefully inside boxes for missing items. Clearly, my intuition was sending me signals! I can’t stress enough how relieved and excited I was to be reunited with this heirloom. The flip side of my relief was the horrible “what if” I hadn’t looked inside the box. What if after all these years of this sweet little keepsake being hidden in plain sight, I’d given it away freely and unknowingly? I hate the thoughts that haunt me. Thankfully, that little voice told me to look inside the box. You never know what you’ll find.

wooden hourglass filled with pink sand set next to a tiny wooden angel ornament and a metal angel votive holder. All are in front of a ceramic Christmas tree.

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