I think it was William Morris who said, "Have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." Wise words indeed, but I have before me on my windowsill three items which are certainly not useful and (whisper it) I don't actually believe to be beautiful either.
Let me tell you why they are here and why I love looking at them.
The first is an artificial orchid, given to me by my parents-in-law. They are keen gardeners themselves and used to give me plants – which I would pass onto my husband as quickly as possible. I have a black thumb and kill plants. Not intentionally – but they just take one look at me, shrivel up and die. Once my dear in-laws understood this, they gave me a plant which I could not kill. I have never had the heart to tell them that I don't much like artificial plants either, because they gave it to me in love.
The second is a stuffed grey squirrel. Yes, a real one. He sits on his haunches holding a walnut between his paws. He was bought by my late uncle in 1939 for the princely sum of sixpence (his pocket money) in a local Estate sale. For as long as I knew my uncle, this squirrel sat on the desk by the side of his bed. When my uncle died and we were clearing out his cottage, I asked if I could take it. Every time I look at it I remember my uncle with love.
The third is the most recent. This Christmas my son Tom and his girlfriend Jenny gave me a pair of plaster bookends after the style of Beatrix Potter. One end features a mother rabbit in a rocking chair with a pair of baby rabbits and the other has a bonneted mother duck pushing a perambulator, a toddler duck alongside. They are not my style at all. Apparently Jenny said to Tom "Those are hideous! We can't give them to your Mum. She has much better taste than that!" To which he replied, "Trust me. She'll love them!"
And they were both right. When I unwrapped these bookends my eyes filled with tears because I understood what they meant. Tom had picked them out because they signified motherhood for him. He wanted to say thank you to me for becoming his mother.
I cherish these ugly things because they represent love. Not only love, but acceptance.
My in-laws have accepted me with all my problems, with love and without reservations.
My uncle loved me just as I am. He never complained that I was too unstable or asked why I couldn't just balance out on a more even keel.
My son and his girl adore me, just as I am.
So I keep their gifts where I can see them, so remind me that I am loved.
Even if the aesthetic taste of my loved ones does not quite march with my own!
A Moodscope member.