Over this past month, my parents – declaring a need to downsize, live their best life and all that – sold and moved out of their home of more than 20 years. Thankfully, this was not my childhood home, so I wasn’t as sentimental about it as I otherwise might have been.
I can be a bit nostalgic, overdramatic, obnoxious – call it what you may – in situations where goodbyes are in order. Weeping as I walk from room to room, stroking walls and replaying in my mind all the memories that were made in each space is not out of the realm of possibility for me.
With this house, I did a little of that (minus the weeping), but really, there was just so much stuff to be dealt with that by the time we were done moving everything out, it was similar to the feeling you have after finally saying goodnight to a toddler who has been a terror all day: “Ugh, goodbye. I don’t want to see you again any time soon.”
That’s not to say that all their stuff didn’t yield some amazing finds. For example, I am now the proud owner of the entire baking aisle at Costco. My mom, an avid cook, stocked her pantry for years with all the goods I usually never splurge on like Ghirardelli chocolate chips, organic toasted coconut flakes, name-brand pasta and really fancy pickles.
Every time she would stop by in the weeks leading up to the big move, she would give me a hug and then hand me a reusable shopping bag filled with goodies from their pantry, fridge or freezer. Two percent milk! Full-fat sour cream! Cereal sold in boxes instead of bulk bags! It was a carnival of delights every time she came over for a visit.
There were items we acquired that were not so successful, however. I made the mistake of bringing some of my kids along to “help” at one of the garage sales my parents held to get rid of some of their stuff. And I don’t know if it’s all kids, or just my kids, but they pick the most random stuff that they simply must have.
Ten-year-old Henry chose a replica of a tall ship that was bigger than a human baby. Sixteen-year-old Lucy was lured in by jewelry of questionable provenance. But what everyone decided we just had to have was a pizzelle maker that used to belong to my Great-Grandma Deta.
In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, a pizzelle maker is a waffle iron-esque appliance that produces delicate, intricate, crispy cookies. I read somewhere that the pizzelle is the oldest known cookie recipe on Earth – and it looked like Grandma Deta’s pizzelle maker might possibly be the oldest known appliance.
My kids begged me to bring it home, and my mom even dug out the pizzelle recipe she still had written in Grandma Deta’s handwriting. That old serpent, Nostalgia, convinced me that bringing this ancient appliance into my home would be a good idea.
It was not a good idea.
As soon as we poured in the batter, the pizzelle maker started to smoke. There was a faint electrical smell. A circuit breaker tripped. The decimated cookie stuck to the top and bottom of the appliance in such a way that getting it off would require a sandblasting like that of a colonial shipwreck undergoing restoration for the Smithsonian.
I looked Nostalgia straight in the eye and chucked the pizzelle maker into the trash. It wasn’t that difficult to do since I was now surrounded with all sorts of things that could bring me comfort: my old prom dresses (which would now fit about a quarter of my body); report cards from elementary school on up; all the folding chairs that have been reproducing in my parents’ closets for the past two decades; and enough down pillows to last us until the heavens are rolled together as a scroll.
Please don’t tell my mom (because I’m sure she’ll bring something right over), but there’s a little more room left in our basement. It’s a spot about the size of a pizzelle maker.
Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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