Tuesday, April 06, 2010

THEME THURSDAY - THE BOX

Maggie's family was poor.  Not quite dirt poor, but poor all the same.  Extras were never forthcoming.  Dinner was leftovers throughout the week, but what her mommy and daddy could not give her in materials, they gave her in many other ways. 

The love was apparent.  The love overflowed.  Sometimes her daddy would come home from his backbreaking job as a farmhand, dirty, sweaty, and in bad crop years, like this one, paid usually in homegrown garden vegetables and small roasts for her mommy to put in the oven.  She could cook anything and it always tasted like what Maggie imagined gourmet food must taste like. 

She knew all about gourmet food because when she visited at Zoe's house, her mom was always watching cooking shows on TV while Maggie and Zoe played with their dolls in the cool living room.  Zoe had air conditioning that kept her whole house cool, and Maggie's family only had a couple of window fans, but when the smell of the earth was being carried on the breeze and whisked through the window fan over Maggie's little twin bed with the blue quilt her gramma had made her before she died, those fans seemed like heaven's very own air conditioning, and Maggie, and she was sure her mom and dad, too, because she had tiptoed down the hallway one night to check to make sure they were not scared of the dark or anything, fell asleep with a smile on their faces in the cool, country night air.

Sometimes when she was on her way to school, walking the few blocks between her house and the little brick building that was all tiled and cold inside all the time in the warmer weather, Maggie would find a toy discarded by some other child, carelessly left at the curb for the trash pickup.  What had lost its magic for one, was just beginning to weave its magic for the poorest girl in school.  She would cradle it in her arms, hide it away in her backpack or wrapped in her gym shorts and play with it at home until it was useless.  

One afternoon in the summer, with school out and the days stretching for miles, a surprise was waiting for Maggie when her dad came home from a hard week of work.  It was a Saturday, she was sure of that, because she definitely remembered that the next day was church day, and one thing her daddy refused to do was work on the Sabbath.  That was what he called it.  Maggie was not sure why the Sabbath was so important, except that it meant her parents slept later and then fixed a breakfast of pancakes and syrup.  But on this particular Saturday evening, the money had come in after a long, tough winter.  The crops had done real good, her daddy said, and he wanted to take his little girl to a toy store, a real one, and let her pick out a brand new toy for herself.

They all three loaded up in the old Falcon they somehow kept running, and went to town, singing the whole way, the hot wind from the moving car kicking up gritty dirt into their faces, causing little streaks of mud to form in the rivers of sweat running down their faces. 

At the toy store, Maggie was awestruck and shocked, overwhelmed by the pretty, shiny dolls and tops, the puzzles, the games, the colors, and the crowd of children bored with everything in the store, pouting, tossing it aside, whining.  

Maggie freely wandered the aisles, clutching her ten dollars.  Her mom and dad would move from one bench at the end of an aisle, to the bench at the end of the next one, so they could keep a contented and happy eye on their daughter, smiling at one another, happy to have been able to give Maggie a little something at last.  

Suddenly, digging through the toys on a shelf, Maggie saw what she wanted:  A box.  A huge box folded and stashed behind a shelf of toys, a shipping box.  When her daddy realized she was serious about taking that home, he took Maggie to the front where she asked, with all the charm only a small child can muster, "How much for that box?"  

The clerks worked and worked to free the large box from against the wall, finally sliding it out the end of the shelves, and the man who helped move it said, "It's free.  Enjoy it."  

Maggie handed the ten dollars back to her daddy and holding her mommy's hand while he carried it to the car, she was shivering with anticipation.  

Over the next couple of years that box was an airplane, a castle, a rocket ship, a train, a cabin, a tree house.  Anything a child could want was contained within it, if only she dared to imagine.  

To some it might have been just a box, but to Maggie it was a prized possession.  

11 comments:

Tracy said...

That was an amazing read.

Magpie said...

Oh, you got an early start on Thursday!! I love this story and it's so very true!! Great TT

Tom said...

we all know kids love to play in boxes, but you added a special sweetness to the story. HappyTT!

Brian Miller said...

magnificent post. boxes were such treasures as kids..they could be so much. you pulled my heart strings as well with the precious little girl.

Jill said...

Sweet! SO VERY SWEET! The innocence of childhood and the beauty found...in a box.

PattiKen said...

This is a lovely story. I remember when my kids were always more enthralled with the boxes than the toys that came in them. And I'm guessing it was for the same reason Maggie loved her box so much. A box can be anything!

Julie said...

A deftky woven story that was a joy to read. Good stuff.

tony said...

That Box Contained The Whole World.

Jingle said...

beautiful story,
I am still cooking it...

Janice said...

There is such truth in your post. So many time, over the years, I have watched a child open a wonderful gift only to be entranced with the box, the wrapping paper, or the ribbon...while the new doll (or whatever) just sits there, totally ignored.

AngelMay said...

Nice story and reminds me of one from my own past. Charming.