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Family Traditions and Saving Broken Things

marble stand

I baked these pumpkin muffins this morning. They’re sitting on this old marble washstand I bought in 1992. I got it at the old Spivey’s Antique Store that used to be on May Avenue off Northwest 23rd Street here in OKC. I was married to Juliette’s dad then. In 1998, a year after she was born, I got the washstand in the divorce. When Juliette and I moved to the Garage Loft a few years later, the creeptastic movers were hung over and broke half our stuff including the marble backsplash. I was so sad to lose more stuff, but thankfully, the stand and slab were spared! I even kept the broken pieces of the backsplash. I wondered if by some miracle someone would be able to put it back together for me someday.

I was hoping for the same miracle for myself.

Today, it’s 2014, and I prepare food on the marble stand every day. It appears frequently in my Instagrams, and of course my memories and family traditions. It’s funny. If the backsplash hadn’t been broken, the stand would not sit like an island in the middle of my kitchen. It would be against a wall, somewhere in my house, possibly useless and sitting pretty holding an antique basin and pitcher. Instead, because half of it was broken, I found a utilitarian use for it.

I think the miracles I hoped for in the late 1990s unfold a little more every day. I remarried in 2003, and in 2005, my son Sullivan was born. My daughter Bridgette came along in 2007. And, my Juliette, heaven help me, is 17.

Life is short and things break apart, but I believe in restoration.

My basement is full of so many things. Every time I see the broken backsplash buried beneath the foam Halloween tombstones we put in the yard every October, I curse myself for keeping it all these years. Why have I lugged around broken parts? But, lately, I’ve seen things differently. I’ve been tuning into Nicole Curtis of Rehab Addict. She breathes new life into lots of broken things. In one episode she restored a fireplace that had some broken tiles. She didn’t replace them because she said it gave the fireplace character. It made me reconsider my need to whitewash all the imperfections in my 1919 prairie bungalow.

I’ve been thinking about the marble stand a lot, too. It’s autumn and I’m doing lots of baking, rolling out scones and butter cookies on that cool-to-the-touch marble. In my mind, the stand has always belonged to Juliette. It’s part of her story and I will give it to her someday. It’s important for people — especially children mired in the consequences of divorce — to know where they came from.

But, I don’t want it to remind her of how our lives were once broken. I want it to remind her of how God gave me the desires of my heart. I want it to remind her of our family traditions and all the years she stood in front of it decorating Christmas cookies and watching me chop vegetables. Someday, after she is grown and settled, I’ll have the backsplash restored with mosaic tiles or stained glass — and the broken pieces that made us the people we are today.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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