little black velvet bag
"After this, there's really nothing left"...
She says, almost absentmindedly,
(have no doubt, this was mostly playing martyr)
while pulling out a tiny
black velvet bag.
I quickly catch the
of the huge lump in her throat.
(Proof, that was more telling than she'd like)
She started her opening by saying
she'd gifted my oldest sister
some old piece of her jewelry, as well
perhaps a ring
or a necklace
I really couldn't tell you
since I was barely listening.
Usually that works in my favor.
However, I was keen to pick up on
her tone while regaling.
She made certain I understood
that my sister's was a 'gift' with a better story,
that it was possibly considered
far more precious in value or sentimentality
than what I was probably about to receive.
Usual, is her way
of trying to come across
as motherly, charitable and giving
while at the same time,
purposely making me feel less than,
with any little dig
that might 'draw blood'.
My smileó one I've practiced for years
hides my real feelings perfectly.
Not one indication slips through
of the truth that lies beneath.
I politely open the little black velvet bag
as she explains that my father
(Then, I instantly knew.)
picked this particular, somewhat high end
costume jewelry set
out for her, himself
during his weekly business trips to New York.
He'd travel there almost every week for work,
for the first 8 - 9 years of my life.
Being gone for the bulk of the year
and mainly home only on the weekends.
The necklace and earring set
wasn't that fancy
or something all that pretty
to most people.
To me, they meant the world
and sparkled like royal gems.
I remember him showing me
this professionally wrapped package
and how enthralled I was
with such an exquisite present.
I'd lay under the tree,
fingering it's beautiful bow
marveling at the skillful decoration,
dreaming of what was inside
utterly loving that my father was so generous
finally found us unwrapping gifts,
I could hardly wait
to see what that gorgeous box held
So much soó
that I disregarded my own gifts and toys
and ran straight to it,
finding it amongst the scattered debris
of ribbon and wrapping paper,
I handed it to my mother.
She marveled at the craftsmanship,
the beauty of package's decorations
pretending like she hadn't seen it before
or my infatuation thereof
she opened it
as my little heart lept and pounded
opening the inner jewelry gift box,
I swear I could hear myself catch my breath
keeping my eyes peeled to her face...
for those first and faintest signs
of pure joy, to bloom
like a rose opening its petals
it never came.
She feigned approval and adoration
but I saw it.
I saw her.
I saw the disappointment.
that flooded her face
for but an instant
yet crystal clear and undoubtedly.
To this day,
I have no idea why she was disappointed,
or what it might have been
she was expecting.
and I don't care one bit to know.
She wore the earrings a few times
over the years,
I never saw her wear the necklace
However I did see the pride
in my father's eyes.
How sure of himself he was
that she'd absolutely love it.
I know with three kids,
that there wasn't much left over
to spend on themselves
and that her gift meant
especially hard work for him
80-100 hour work weeks, easily.
Soó this Christmas
I'm beyond proud,
honor filling my chest
paying proper homage to that jewelry set.
Finally giving it the long awaited fanfare
of deep approval and appreciation it deserves
from eyes that shine
of a love that knows no condition
and never will.