There Was Never Just a Hallmark Card

MarilynDavisatTIERSStarred Page By MarilynDavisatTIERS, 3rd Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Family

Mother’s Day is fast approaching so receiving gifts, flowers, candy, and cards are excitant pour moi. Even dressing it up in French, I cannot make the large white terry cloth robe exciting. It is not about being ungrateful; it is about my Mom, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, gifts and memories.

When You Care Enough to Give the Same

I have reached the age where bathrobes, for God’s sake, are an acceptable gift. Just give me a gift card in lieu of another large white terry cloth robe. I already have three robes. Yet, my daughters tend to forget that they gave me one a few months ago at Christmas. I on the other hand, do remember and I do not need another.

Why Do We Even Have Mother’s Day?

As a holiday, I dislike Mother's Day. I live on pins and needles for a few days before the dreaded day and try not to ruffle my daughter’s feathers so that on the day, we can all act appropriately. That behavior in my case is my seeming pleasure at yet another terry robe.

I understand the history of the day; however, I find it ironic that when Anna Jarvis, the founder of the holiday, was arrested in 1948, she did so protesting the over commercialization of the holiday.

She disliked the practice of purchasing greeting cards, which she saw as a sign of being too lazy to write a personal letter. She said upon her arrest, “I wish I would have never started the day because it became so out of control.”

How out of control is the spending in America?

• $2.6 billion on flowers
• $1.53 billion on pampering gifts—like spa treatments—
• $68 million on greeting cards

My mother had the right idea about gifts. Her belief was two-fold:

• If she wanted something, she bought it when she wanted it or needed it.
• If she could not afford it, neither could her children.

Gifts – Required for the Holiday

There was only one year where I liked the present I gave my Mom. I was 17 years old and working after school at my first job. I had my own money to spend; I think that was the key. Other years, I was spending my parent’s money to get them a present. That Mother’s Day, I bought an evening bag at an antique store. It cost me $100 in 1964, which was expensive.

I also wondered if giving my mother this bag would then start another obsession.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Created Collections

Although my Mom received help for her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when I returned from substance abuse treatment, her condition was undiagnosed and untreated when I was growing up. Because much of her behavior resulted in compulsive collections and hobbies, my sister and I marked our time by the Year of the Egg, Macramé, Quilt, Decoupage, Oil Painting, Watercolors, Appliqué, and Crochet.

Each of these hobbies allowed my mother to create; her OCD forced her to create too much.

Knowing that liking something often triggered her need for more of the same, I questioned if buying this bag would then be the beginning of a collection of antique bags. Giving gifts in our family was risky, we unknowingly might have created a new collection, or we might get a gift back in a different creative form, so we had best like the gift we were giving.

Creative Clutter and the Gift of Containment

My Dad liked order. My Mom created clutter. He bought cardboard boxes a week before the basement would undergo a complete transformation. This was his Mother’s Day gift to her. The contractor would make that cement cavern into workrooms for her varied projects.

Falsely believing that he had contributed to order when he bought the boxes; my Mom instead saw this as just another opportunity to be creative. Years before the trend, she covered all of the boxes that Dad bought with fabric in coordinating prints for each family member, so the shelves in her workroom would have splashes of color.

Although she sewed for my sister and me, she did not make clothes for Dad, so a trip to her favorite fabric store meant more material, and more stuff coming into the house. Her justification was that Dad would have his own, as she called them, “manly” fabrics covering his boxes.

My sister and I had boxes covered in material from dresses made years before that somehow did not make it into a quilt. We talked about the memories these fabric swatches prompted while Mom covered the boxes.

So Many Boxes, So Many Memories

While he was gone, she sorted old cardboard boxes into paper piles. Some of these papers from my Dad, my sister and I went into the newly decorated boxes. I did not understand her rationale for what went in the new box, but we lived with piles of papers in the den for a week.

We would talk about some of the papers as she sorted - the playbill she had made for our pretend Broadway show, or a drawing my sister made at four, or a science paper of mine where I made an A+ on a report. That did deserve the new box, since it was a fluke for me to make above a C in science.

When she decided that a pile was worthy of a fabric covered box, she still had to decide which box. Therefore, the decorated boxes competed for space in the den. By the end of the week, she had her system working and one large, undecorated box filled with odd papers would start yet another project.

Cards, Memories and Reminders that Keep on Giving

This one would be the year of the Decoupage.

Mom used the odd papers from Dad, my sister and I to decorate barn wood, Kleenex boxes, jewelry boxes, plaster casts that she made herself to get the shape and size exactly right, and one time, a chair from my room that I used at my desk.

She decided that torn pieces of several A+ English papers, artfully applied to my chair, would provide inspiration to keep studying. Who knew it would take two months for the decoupage overhaul?

She wanted my Dad to know how much she appreciated her workroom gift, so she made him decoupage eggs since he was in the poultry industry as well as eggs reminding him of their trip to Italy.

More Trips to the Craft Store - More Stuff for the New Shelves

In case you do not know how tedious decoupage is, it is a minimum 13-stage process. Here is the brief description of what you need.

The Devil is the Details and Decoupage

Decoupage is the art of decorating almost anything, covered by cutouts from magazines or from purpose-manufactured papers, or our respective papers in the project box.

Next, you have to cut out the designs, using tiny manicure scissors to be exact. Glue the image to the surface, then varnish each image, lightly sanding between coats, as the object has to look inlaid or painted on, not just glued on.

This edict to blend meant that my Mom typically varnished and sanded between 30 and 40 coats before she was satisfied with the result, so I am not surprised that I was without my chair for months.

Mother’s Day Means New Workrooms and a Beaded Evening Bag

When my Dad came home from his trip, he told her that he thought she would use the boxes to remove stuff from the house. She of course told him that she could not possibly part with such sentimental items and although she could not fit everything into the decorated boxes, she had found another creative outlet for the overflow.

Rarely were things that my Mom valued thrown away.

Remnants of cloth from sewing would eventually become a quilt. Extra yarn from crocheting became a macramé plant holder. Regardless of any project’s humble beginnings, all in their time became a part of a greater project.

Understanding on some level that she bought too much, or created too much, my Mom lovingly referred to all of these odd items as, Collections.

When we went out to dinner for Mother’s Day, I gave my Mom her bag. She thought it was beautiful and started telling me about an upcoming formal occasion when she would use her new bag. She then wondered if the hall area between the guest room and my parent’s room could use a new display. She would like the contractor to to give her an estimate on various sizes of shadow boxes.

Collections

I knew that my Mom and I would travel to antique stores in Atlanta and she would get her new collection. This was the first time I had helped her start one, however, it was not the last time I continued one.

See that is the thing about collections, they must remain intact to be a collection; otherwise, they are just an isolated piece of paper or an antique bag.

I Am My Mother’s Daughter

This coming Mother’s Day, I need to remember that I have also created collections and sometimes they were not for me, anymore than some collections were for my Mom. When my daughter was pregnant with my first grandchild, Bailey, she made the mistake of telling me that she wanted a bear theme for Bailey’s room.

I justified buying all kinds of bear accessories as this was my first grandchild. I had shelves custom made for the room to display things. However, for her first Christmas at four months, she got a total of 65 various bear items – pictures, figurines, toy boxes, sheets and comforters, outfits, embroidered and needlepoint antique pillows – not for the crib, but the antique rocker, and with that justification, I think you probably get the point.

So, Whatever Became of the Evening Bag?

If you are wondering about that evening bag from 1964, well it is part of a wall display in my upstairs hall. It did become a collection for my Mom, one that I inherited and continued. My youngest granddaughter, Emma, has expressed interest in the bags, but she is only seven, so we will see.

Understanding and Valuing the Gift

I learn something about myself and processing each time I write. It is a reflection on the past and how it still influences today. I think I understand my daughters getting me the white terry coat. Therefore, I may be my mother's daughter, but I promise my own daughters:

• I Will Not Cut it Up and Make other Objects d’art - it’s so passé, think of your last hotel visit
• I Will Not Make it my Signature Piece and Wear It Compulsively When We Go Out
• I Will Not Start a Collection – the Victoria Secrets, Neiman Marcus, or Bergdorf Goodman's Versions


Moreover, I will understand and be thankful for the cards, the flowers and that safe to give, white terry cloth robe.



For additional articles by Marilyn Davis

Each person has a unique voice and Wikinut is a place for you to share your wisdom, humor, insight and knowledge. Join, write and become connected to others who share a passion for writing, supporting one another, and learning on Wikinut. http://www.wikinut.com/in/tjgiol/

Credits
Decoupage and Collections: Marilyn Davis
All other images: Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay

Tags

Collections Or Clutter, Gift Giving, Mothers And Memories, Mothers Day, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Meet the author

author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
A Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist, with 25 years of abstinence-based recovery. I write about addictions, recovery, life lessons and general writing tips.

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Comments

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Apr 2014 (#)

Quite a challenge for the children eh?

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
3rd Apr 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Peter, thank you for moderating and the Star. Just wondering from the comment, did you mean my sister and I growing up or my adult children today :) My daughters just like to phrase it as, "We come from a long line of eccentric women" and leave it at that.

As they have gotten older, they view things differently, just as I do. Therefore, eccentric, unconventional, different, or just plain odd is more interesting sometimes.

My relationship with them is much kinder than this might sound, as are my memories of my Mom. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Apr 2014 (#)

I was meaning in the wider sense, not just you.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
3rd Apr 2014 (#)

great piece indeed Marilyn...

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
4th Apr 2014 (#)

Good morning, Carolina, thanks for the comment. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Apr 2014 (#)

I love this. In my head, and not yet on paper, I'm working on a similar piece. I've got the moving articles (text) done, but I wanted to complete the yard sale because I see ways they will connect and it may change how I've written the others.
My dad's mom has been dead longer than I've been married, and her house still isn't cleaned out. My mother's mom -- the one I love, the one I claim -- died last year and we cleaned out her house in less than six months.
I am planning a massive yard sale and the question I kept asking as I added to the pile was: who (of my family) is going to want this when I am dead? Pretty morbid way to look at a yard sale. Mom knows I downsized and offered to let me store anything I wanted at her house, since for the past six years I've been saying that to her, and since then she's had another child move out. But her house or mine -- what does that solve? Ultimately, I don't want useable items going in the trash just because I don't want them. But neither do I want to store things another 6 years, move them again, or have anyone else deal with something unless they want it, they need it, or it would make them happy.
Anyway -- this will be it's own article soon enough, but yours is NOW and you've hit on so many things I have thought that I needed to tell you you made me think about them.
Also -- mother's day -- I've gotten cheap stones (pavers) at the hardware store and had my son paint stencils on them. My mother says she never has enough stepping stones, so it's pretty and practical and when the paint wears off, repainting them can be a gift later. My sister (the much better artist) has had the same idea, but with kitchen tiles, and my mother's kitchen backsplash is chock full of handmade designs. They may not be your thing, but they aren't terry cloth robes!! ;)

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Apr 2014 (#)

ARGH! I did it again -- ITS, not it's!!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
4th Apr 2014 (#)

Good morning, Phyl, I think the pavers idea is great. The stuff, it is a problem. I wrote an article about my move, also and one on donations. Someone needs that stuff. It is hard to make a decision on the family things, but without family that wants it, it just becomes stuff - sad but true. Write that article, you know you'll find some answers for yourself when you do. ~Marilyn

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author avatar wonder
4th Apr 2014 (#)

A spectacular clutter,I enjoyed this.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
4th Apr 2014 (#)

Good morning, Wonder, yes, many of her pieces did end up being spectacular and we still enjoy them. Thanks for the comment. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
4th Apr 2014 (#)

Thought provoking post, Marilyn. And now few are also into modern ways of OCD like Facebook, Twitter; hopefully not Wikinut which is after all a veritable store house of creative writing. I agree that most "days" are just marketing gimmicks that do not add value but drive a hole in our pockets - siva

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
4th Apr 2014 (#)

Good morning, Siva; I am uncertain what you mean by the "modern ways of OCD". I would agree that Wikinut is a store house of creative writing, although in this case, it is more true than creative :) ~Marilyn

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
4th Apr 2014 (#)

Amazing article Marilyn. Thank you. It seems to me that almost all our holidays now have become just one more commercial opportunity.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
4th Apr 2014 (#)

Good morning, Steve, thank you for the generous comment. Becoming unemployed helped me curb some of my contribution to the commercial aspect of many holidays. The lesson in less? My choices of gifts were more specific, I asked what people wanted instead of getting too much of a good thing, and I was more personal in my approach to giving - a weekend with Nana, cooking, reading, the same movie viewed five times, and having three scoops of ice cream. Okay, the three scoops might have been too much, but hey, it was only every three months :) ~Marilyn

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
4th Apr 2014 (#)

Holidays are a marketing tool nowadays, still why not spend your heart out on the your one and only Mother and Father. They deserve the best from us, nice post Marilyn!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
4th Apr 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Fern, my parents did deserve my best efforts - even in gift buying. I just think there is so much emphasis on gifts and not always heart felt. Thanks for commenting. ~Marilyn

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author avatar writestuff
4th Apr 2014 (#)

Interesting post. Unfortunately, all holiday, observances, etc. eventually become the tools of the marketing gurus.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
4th Apr 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, writestuff, excellent point and it seems to be getting worse, Black Friday/Monday, President's Day sales and the like...what next :) ~Marilyn

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
4th Apr 2014 (#)

great piece saying it as it is as you do so well...mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers what the hell..greetings from the heart are swell....

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
5th Apr 2014 (#)

Good evening, Carolina - before I forget, you are mentioned in my newest article - let me know your thoughts.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I will write a poem
With a shout-out to you

Blessings ~Marilyn

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author avatar T2Lin
13th Apr 2014 (#)

Mothers are creative people. They are the epitome of highly evolved individuals. OCD is the term for overdoing the art of piling up collectibles and memorabilia’s but is it really a disorder? The memories they pile up and the projects they create actually tell the story of their life and their families. The new generation failed to appreciate the clutter that the older generation created. These are mostly full of memories of people, places and events. These will eventually be tools to help the seniors with memory slippage to remember, reminisce and be young again.

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