Grandma’s Attic Treasures

Grandma’s Attic Treasures

From Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul

Grandma’s Attic Treasures

The manner of giving shows the character of the giver, more than the gift itself.

John Caspar Lavater

“I don’t want to go. You’re not being fair.”

My mother glared at me. Her tan cheeks flushed with crimson.

“I won’t go!” I hollered.

“You will, and that’s final.”

“But . . .”

“Final,” she said as she walked out of the room.

The ride from our home to Grandma’s was lengthy, but the hours of silence intensified the dreary trip. I couldn’t find joy in the book or music I had brought to occupy my time. My parents sat silently in the front seat. The hum of the car on the road and my brother’s rhythmical snores were my only companions.

I looked at my watch. By now my friends were on their way to the jazz concert, having fun. I rubbed my jaw, trying to relax the tight muscles.

For the next three days I worked quietly beside my parents as we cleaned my grandparents’ house so they could sell it and move into an assisted-living residence near us. The dust, mold and musty smells were pungent, but not as foul as my attitude.

How could my mother treat me like this? Why would she insist I spend the most important weekend of my life doing such a rotten job? Most of my friends would graduate in three weeks, so this would have been our last chance to go to a concert and hang out together. Sweat rolled down my back as I scrubbed the kitchen cupboards, but the steam boiling in my heart was hotter than Grandma’s perking teakettle.

My arms ached every night from the day’s work, but my jaw ached even more from the tension built up in me. My only reprieve was following my grandparents up the rickety attic stairs to browse through the years of history stored on shelves and in boxes.

From antique dressers to handmade cedar chests, old papers, Christmas ornaments, dishes and toys, the attic was full of wonderful treasures. With every item I picked up, Grandma had a story to tell about it. I couldn’t wait for our day of cleaning torture to be over so I could vacation in the past with my grandma.

Though the attic was an excellent distraction, my jaw tensed each time I thought of my friends at the concert.

As we packed to leave, Grandma tiptoed and placed a gentle kiss on my cheek. “Thank you for helping us,” she said.

“You’re welcome,” I muttered. Her tender gray eyes sparkled. My sacrifice had meant a lot to her. “You’re welcome,” I said again, hugging her.

Three weeks later we moved my grandparents close by, and I was able to see them regularly and enjoy the vanilla wafer cookies and milk Grandma offered me. Their new home was cozy, but I couldn’t ignore the dreamy look in Grandma’s eyes when she talked about her home on the beach. Together we reminisced about the objects we had seen in the attic, and Grandma’s familiar smile added happy wrinkles on her face.

When Christmas arrived, Grandma and Grandpa came with wide smiles and arms full of gifts. I enjoyed having my older sister and brother home from school. And though I knew the majority of presents under the tree were for my three-year-old brother, this year was special because we were all together.

It wasn’t the bright lights on the Christmas tree or the multitude of presents hugging the trunk that caught my attention—it was the porcelain doll snuggled into the red and green plaid skirt surrounding the tree. Her hands were primly folded on her white, flowing dress. The pink satin bow around the waist and hem of her dress were bathed in the Christmas lights.

This precious gift was the last one to be handed out. Would my older sister receive this porcelain princess? Oh, how I wanted to hold it.

Grandma’s curly hair bounced when she nodded her head at my mom, who tenderly picked up the doll . . . and placed it in my lap.

Silence. Even the background music seemed to sense this blessed moment. My tears fell onto the doll’s fluffy white dress as I sat on the couch. “Thank you, Grandma.”

“You’re welcome, dear.”

I noticed a tear trace down a wrinkle, falling onto her shoulder.

“Did you want to keep her?” I asked, stroking the doll.


“Then why are you crying?”

“I knew you would enjoy a treasure from the attic.”

I was grateful I missed the concert, for I received priceless treasures from Grandma’s. Not just the doll, but her stories and her smile, permanently etched into my mind.

Anne Johnson

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