As someone who seems prone to remembering the past, I really had a tough time with a recent family “challenge.” It was actually a request from my stepdaughter, who asked us that she, her husband, their rambunctious 2 year-old, and her in-laws from Texas stay with us for a few days over Christmas.
No big deal, right? You haven’t surveyed our 2nd floor accommodations recently.
You see, the room the in-laws were to stay in for the 2018 version of the Griswold Old-Fashioned Family Christmas was declared the “room of all trades” over the past several years. There’s extra bedding, an interesting collection of clothing – like the old, long dresses from my late mother (some I just can’t part with), various toys and furniture – like the large rocking chair with which I put 50,000 miles on with by rocking 2 babies just 51 weeks apart. I first had the task of removing most of the stuff from the room to prep it for painting…the first paint job in over 20 years.
Step 1 (aka Stuff Removal) most items were tossed, stored elsewhere, or donated. So here’s hoping…just like the song that starts with “out there, somewhere…” some little girl is cuddling with a barely used Build-A-Bear horsie, and a young boy is wearing a virtually unworn hunter green wool sweater to keep him warm this winter.
This room took care of my son for a long time until he moved into the room next door with the convenient adjacent bathroom for his teenage years. For his elementary and adolescent duration, every effort was made to keep that first room updated with his many interests. First, we bargained for a yard-sale metal bed, painted it green and yellow and called it the “Tractor Bed.” John Deere pictures hung on the walls and matching pillows complimented the bedding – with tractors on it.
Next came his love for hockey, and most other sports. So, the trusty metal bed accepted a fresh coat of navy paint with some NHL magnets on the headboard. The walls were a bleak shade of off-white, so a wide, all-sports themed border was wrapped around the entire perimeter. This was a very wide border with thick glue. Really thick and really old glue.
So removing this once-cute border was a task. All the advice I received on border removal, not to mention all the chemicals (and patience in the world) finally paid off. I peeled away the memories, one shred at a time, but had some nice company from the sweet-faced, wooden bear we had custom made for our son years ago. After Mr. Bear “helped” me with that border project, I had to relocate him to my son’s current room, and the two were gleefully reunited when he came home for Christmas.
Step 2 (aka Border Patrol) – complete! There were many toys and games I remember buying for our son, but apparently we purchased some sort of pellet rifle for him. So, upon close inspection of the walls, there were little 1/4″ round dimples on some, if not all, of the walls. My kid must be an expert marksman given the amount of dimples we had to spackle, although I don’t believe he will ever consider a career as a hitman.
Since this room had high, vaulted ceilings, there is a large covered top to the closet. After getting the nerve to scale the tall ladder to clear cobwebs on top of the closet, there rested a arrangement of little yellow pellets, a t-shirt, the blister-pack case the rifle came in, an old fleece blanket, and…what I believe was a discarded brown bag lunch from 5th grade. And he’s a Junior in college now.
Eew is right.
Step 3, which will be called “D & C” (aka Discard and Clean) is done, Hallelujah! This led us to the large, white cabinet which had been taking up a lot of space in the center of the room this whole time. Originally, it was to be installed in my daughter’s room, but, well, her room is rather small, and….to use a polite word my mother taught me – unkempt. It was suggested by my husband that it would be a better fit as a window seat, and he was so so right. One less item to deal with, and it is a perfect motif for this Southern-style Cape Cod home we own.
With Step 4 (aka Southern Charm) done, it was finally time to paint. We picked a shade of gold, and while I started the cutting in, I decided that I will recruit my son to help me with the rolling. After all, at 6’1″ he can stand on the tall ladder and paint to the top of the vaulted ceiling – and more important – around the Coca-Cola basketball hoop that he won in a hockey tournament raffle. That’s there just in case the in-laws want to play a quick game of Horse. That’s the one item that will remain until he decides to take it with him someday.
And I’m O.K. with that.
Surprise of the week – while I was away picking up my son from college, my sweet, wonderful, and very thoughtful husband hired a friend to paint – professionally – the now proclaimed “Griswold Gold Guest room.”
Best. Gift. Ever.
Although my son got “off the hook” from helping me with the paint, perhaps we can all revisit his former room, play some one-on-one, or just sit at the window seat and take in the memories of his childhood.