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Wooden flute, Hydra; Black Orchid body lotion,
Tom Ford; Neem toothbrush stick, Avenue A; Ayurvedic herbal oil for joint and muscle pain relief; a rock shaped like a heart that’s blood-red.
Document The Short Story Project: Discoveries
In keeping with this Document’s spirit of discovering unusual collections and objects, we asked a handful of our favourite contributors to delve into the darkest depths of their cupboards, attics, or memories and write to us about what they found, to create our own mini museum of found objects from across the globe.
Everybody Needs Cards Tod Wodicka
My mother keeps holidays in the attic. You could go there when you were little and suffering one of those prickly midsummer boredoms, nobody else in the house: a raw, hollow pocket of home, like pulling back the skin of the year and finding its best parts boxed-up, unassembled, all its plans and ideas of itself exposed.
A sad place of waiting: all that clustered, concentrated happiness. There was a dwarf-sized plastic Santa Claus that lit-up, a finger held permanently to his mouth. Christmasthemed toilet-seat covers; tissue boxes; Rudolph the RedNosed Reindeer soap; cutlery and plates and napkins; stuffed Christmas animals you wound into bouncing manias and spastic electronic versions of Jingle Bells, and a whole, very special box of classy wooden things of the sort that Americans buy when they visits places that celebrate Christmas with umlauts. Box after box. “Victorian Christmas” and “Ho Ho Home for the Holidays” written on two big, dumb dishes, hanging side-by-side on the attic wall, freezing you like headlights. These were walls that could run you over if you weren’t careful. There were the stockings, plastic mistletoe, plastic wreaths, and the infamous, and now-dismembered, fake Christmas tree we used the year my father left my mother for a man.
In hindsight, the Year of the Synthetic Christmas Tree makes more sense. She said she just couldn’t do it, couldn’t get a real Christmas tree that year, directly attacking the heart of her favourite time of the year, punishing herself; punishing Christmas and her love of Christmas trees, punishing the heart of her happy American family tradition as yet another thing that couldn’t be counted on, no matter how you decorated it. I think she’d have opted for transmuting her whole house, children included, into plastic that year.
Christmas boxes next to Easter boxes next to our birthdays boxes and those deathly still Halloween boxes: as a child it was tantalising knowing these days were up there, incubating.
There was also a box that contained my mother’s collection of cards. She had hundreds: for every occasion. Death cards. Graduation cards. Sweet Sixteen cards. Sorry To Hear About Your Aneurism cards. Everything that could possibly happen to a human American, she had a card for. I Think it’s Totally Okay That Your Daughter is Dating a Black Man cards. Holiday cards for Jewish people or, if she’d known any, atheists, Muslims, Hindus and so on.
‘But it looks like a Christmas card.’ “Tod, it’s a holiday card. Everyone likes snow and fireplaces this time of year. It just shows you care.’
“But do they need a card from you pointing it out? And so close to Christmas?”
As if explaining to a beloved imbecile: “everybody needs cards, honey.”
When we were teenagers and were required to send cards to family members, both obscure and known, we’d get our run of the Box. We could pick out the one that most perfectly expressed our emotions at the First Communion of Old Cousin Rosie’s little niece, Mary, who we had never met but had seen a few photographs of, for example. I was always a bit of a dick and would choose the wrong card for the wrong holiday: a Halloween card for, say, Easter (“Jesus H Christ: World’s First Zombie!”) and write “Happy Easter, Grandma!” over something like “Have a Spook-tacular Day!”
Recently, after returning home to Berlin from a visit in the US, I found a card among the many Christmas and birthday