The air is noticeably crisper, leaves are changing colors, children are back to school licking each other’s faces and creating new strains of bacterium, the menfolk have placed new batteries in their beloved remote controls, adorned their houses with their respective college flags and sat their asses on the couch (in great contrast to the rest of the year) to prepare for another captivating season of football. This is also the special time of year when my mother begins gearing up for figurine shopping season.
Yes, figurines. My mother loves figurines. If a robber approached her and said “It is either him or the figurines (pointing a thumb to her husband).” I would miss my stepfather, I really would. A few years ago my mother began buying figurines in mass quantities to display throughout her house during the holiday season. She has clay witches, handmade elves with bells sewn on their bodies, little birdies with fuzzy hats singing Christmas carols, glittery Christmas trees with faces and teeth, terracotta snowmen made in Costa Rica, an African-American nativity scene, Easter bunnies with jewels glued on them, approximately nine-thousand Santas of varying girths and sparkles, one-of-a -kind Asian pilgrims, etc. etc. etc.
Until last year, no one detected any real problem with her new founded hobby. It was not like she was buying crack, just ice-skating penguins. She was still showering, the mortgage was getting paid and any potential inheritance we might have one day received was now securely invested into something of extreme sentimental value, like a ceramic turkey. It was during Thanksgiving dinner when my mom nervously glanced around the table at my aunts and grandmother. She then leaned over and whispered in an almost inaudible tone that “the woman who owns the figurine store was having an enormous sale the day after Christmas and would I like to go with her?” I started to say “Sur-”. My mom gasped, put a finger up to her lips and winked at me. I nodded and winked back, basking in the privileged glory of being entrusted with such clandestine information and our covert mother/daughter sting operation.
Two weeks before Christmas my mother called me and asked if I remembered what we talked about and if I was still “in”. I said “affirmative”. She went on to say that she did not know the next time that we would be alone but instructed me to be at her house at preciously 0800 hours on the 26th. Apparently my stepfather walked into the kitchen just then because all of a sudden my mother stated “The eagle has landed, do you copy? Kawwwww!” and hung up. I yawned and finished filing my nails. Mike said “What was that all about?” I informed him that it was figurine time again and he just nodded and continued flipping through the channels on the TV.
D-Day arrived. I spent the day before exchanging secret glances with my mom while we pretended that our excitement was because my children were opening their Christmas presents. I woke up early and drove across town where my mother was impatiently waiting at her mailbox. She greeted me with a “You are 2 minutes late and I want to make sure we get there before all the hoarders do!” I apologized profusely but she would not calm down until we were sitting in the empty parking lot, in front of the store, waiting for it to open, forty-five minutes later. I reclined my seat and closed my eyes while my mom anxiously chattered away, never taking her laser beam eyes off the store.
“Erin, now I do not want you and Erika to fight over all the figurines when I die.” I nodded, she continued. “I would be mortified if my figurines ever came between my daughters.” “Mom, I am sure we will find it in our sorrow filled hearts to reach a harmonious decision as to how everything should be divided.” She squeezed my hand “God, I hope so.” And just like that the doors unlocked! My mom bolted from the car, started running across the parking lot in a feverish frenzy and actually tripped and fell. I rushed over to help her but she was already gone, dragging her mangled leg behind her. I just stood there rubbing my temples. 4 trips to the car later, I managed to strategically wedge all of my mom’s purchases in my gigantic SUV. I stuck my 2 discounted Christmas tree ornaments and a pinecone covered in glitter on my lap. My mom’s eyes were glazed over as though she was in a gluttonous figurine induced coma. I smiled softly. God, my mother was precious.
Author’s Note: Admittedly there is NO ONE repeat NO ONE more fun to make laugh in this world than my mom. If you are fortunate enough to ever witness her laughing hysterically at something you will see her cry, snort and flail uncontrollably. IT.IS.HILARIOUS. My mom will deny that she is the epitome of comedic genius but I know the real truth, that broad is seriously funny; you should meet her and make her laugh just to see for yourself.
P.S. Mom, you have my solemn word that I will NEVER fight with Erika over your figurines even if it means she inherits every last one. I love you. XO