When I was a little girl, Canadian actor Ernie Coombs, AKA "Mr. Dressup", was one of my favourite shows. What I loved best about "Mr. Dressup" was his Tickle Trunk of dress up clothes. It was amazing. It didn’t matter what make believe game he would get ready to play, that Tickle Trunk always had the best and most elaborate costume! It must have been like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag because that Tickle Trunk had to have been two stories deep to hold all of that costume treasure. How I loved those costumes and dreamed of having a Tickle Trunk of my very own.
When I was a camper and, later, a camp counsellor at Killdevil Church Camp, (Lomond, Bonne Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador) there was a place that gave me a similar joy. Killdevil is comprised of some lovely old buildings and, at that time, at the top of one of the buildings in an area I can only describe as an ‘attic’, there was a magical treasure store of old clothes. One of the best parts about planning a skit for camp (apart from actually writing the skits as I really enjoyed doing that too) was going up into that room and rifling through the clothes. I even remember how it smelled with a combination of summer heat, of old wood, mustiness, and old clothes. Despite the concerns of our over-sanitized world, I really hope they kept that space as it was as I’m sure it would give the campers there today as much joy as it gave me.
This past Friday, a dream come true was delivered to our post office here in Middleton.
I have an uncle and aunt who, despite the fact that they live in Newfoundland and Labrador, we did not see a lot when I was growing up. Although my siblings and I rarely saw this uncle, one of my brothers is the spitting image of him. My mother often exclaims how my brother walks, stands or makes a comment just like Uncle D. It’s incredible how many family characteristics are passed on genetically as there was no way my brother could have copied my uncle’s behaviour because we so rarely saw each other. Unfortunately, through life’s jigs and reels, we have yet to meet this particular aunt face to face. However, partially due to the wonders of the Internet, I feel that this aunt and uncle have become a little closer to us recently.
A number of years ago, one of my computer savvy cousins developed an email list for my mother’s side of the family. The main purpose of this list was to provide weekly updates, which were printed off by another extended family member and brought to my grandmother for perusal. These documents were very precious and special to my grandmother. Even if you were playing cards with her, and that woman was a hard core card player, when the emails came in she would drop everything and read through them all. My grandmother had nine children who all have spouses and most also have children. That meant there were a lot of emails. The uncle I was writing about earlier knew how important these emails were to my grandmother and he was a force in rallying the family to write often and write much to keep that lovely lady in contact. After her reading was done, my grandmother would then write all of us an email by recitation. Not bad for a, then, octogenarian!
Since my grandmother passed away ‘the List’, as we call it, is not as busy. We are all busy with life and not having my grandmother around to focus our thoughts on once a week has not assisted with our contact with one another. However, those years of frequent emails brought a family stretched across Canada and the world, in very close contact and, I believe, to a new dimension of friendship. This brings me back to my aunt and uncle.
A number of weeks ago, my aunt contacted me by email to see if I was interested in some items she was thinking of discarding. In particular, she was thinking of getting rid of things she used to use for fancy dress parties. As DH is in the military, we usually have a fancy dress event once or twice a year and I came to mind.
This past Friday, that box of discards was delivered. On Friday night, I was transported as I pulled out clothes and jewellery from my very own brown box Tickle Trunk. It was enough to make the over imaginative nine year old in me swoon with delight. And, you know what? The contents of that box are way better than what was on television all those years ago!
Thanks so much for making my dreams come true, P!