• jtbelangela

Heirlooms and Yarn Spaghetti

It’s the little things that sometimes mean the most to us—a sweet note from a loved one, a special photograph, or in my case, a paper plate covered in yarn.

After spending an amazing holiday with my soldier son who was home on leave, I found myself feeling melancholy as I put away the holiday decorations in the attic. It was great having my son home with us, spending time together, making all his favorite foods, and simply hearing his laughter filling the house. Saying goodbye once again was difficult. Military parents are used to those frequent good-byes, but as for me, I’ve just come to accept them—they don’t actually get any easier.

So there I was in the attic perched on one of the boxes trying to make room for a tote full of ornaments, when I pulled out a box marked with my son’s name on it. I lifted the lid and saw a number of his projects from pre-school, and on top of the pile was an item carefully wrapped in tissue paper. I recognized the shape immediately, and before I even had it unwrapped, the lump had already formed in my throat.

When my son was in pre-school, one afternoon they celebrated the different cultures of the children. There were special snacks and presentations, and the children each made an art project celebrating their family heritage. My son’s project represented one part of our heritage—the Italian side. His creation was a dish of spaghetti, lovingly crafted in a swirl of red and white yarn atop a paper plate, adorned with several pom-pom meatballs.

I remember the day he brought the project home, and how proud my son was of his masterpiece. I took the project from him, admiring its cleverness, and then rubbed my fingers through his spiky hair before he went off to his room to play. Now all these years later sitting in my attic holding that project in my hands, I found myself jealous of the young mother standing in her tiny yellow kitchen hanging up her son’s artwork. That woman was blissfully unaware of how quickly time would pass, how fast that precocious boy would turn into a man, and a simple paper plate would one day become a priceless heirloom.

I carefully wrapped the paper plate and placed it back in the box before neatly stacking the holiday decorations. I came to the conclusion that it was silly to be jealous of the old me because of how much joy motherhood has brought me in all the years that have passed since that afternoon. Time doesn’t stand still, but if we’re lucky, there are beautiful reminders of all the moments that make this life worth living … even if sometimes they come by way of a paper plate.



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