Happiness is a box of old plastic horses
Some of them are well over 30 years old - remnants of my girlhood love of horses. In the heyday of my horse infatuation, my bedroom shelves were filled with dozens of them. But over time there were casualties: broken legs and severed tails. I gave some away to friends and others to charity. Some time after I went away to college, my mom packed what was left into a box, which sat in the bedroom closet of my old house for several years. One day when I was home visiting, she handed the box over to me.
"Your horses," she said. "Do you want them or do you want me to get rid of them?"
I stared into the box. What was I supposed to do with them? I wasn't exactly going to display them in my apartment. And I didn't really think I wanted children. So why keep them? But as I picked through the box, examining them, memory after memory came back. The names I'd given them (Movie Star, Lightning, Princess, Faithful). The games I'd played with them. The hours I spent arranging and rearranging them in my room.
I decided to take them. I wasn't really sure why, but the box went into the trunk of my car and then straight into another closet. The box moved with me from one apartment to another and then finally to this house - the home where we started our family. With every move, I questioned my rationale for keeping them, but in the end could never quite bring myself to let them go.
Recently, my daughters - like many girls - have fallen head over heels in love with horses. They gallop around and whinny like horses, sleep with their horse-heads-on-a-stick and take their My Little Ponies into the bathtub with them. Watching them gallop around the kitchen today, I started thinking about my own long-ago love of horses and suddenly remembered the box in the attic.
In a flash, I was upstairs, looking for it. It took a little digging, but squealing, I found it and carried it down to the kitchen. The looks on my girls' faces - the pure, unfiltered joy - when I started stacking the horses on the table, along with the rush of hugs and "thank you Mommys!" made the many moves and years of storage unquestionably worthwhile.
Many years ago, I brought home a box of plastic horses wondering why I was saving them. Now I know.