The Box Matters
by Jane Curtis
It is the season for giving gifts. "Okay, Bella, I am busy now. Come back later and we will play."
"Moo, Moo, Bah, Bah, Moo oooo." Bella is wagging her tail and smiling, yes I said, smiling back at me. Back to my story.
I ordered several things online. This is not unusual, however, the box contained boxes inside. "Bella, please."
"Moo, Moo, Bah, Bah, Moo oooo." Bella is wagging her tail, sniffing the box, and smiling back at me.
The box was from a pet supply company. I have recently acquired 3 baby tortoises. I ordered some supplies for them, for my two squirrels, and yes, for two dogs; Sweet Pea, (the old maid), and Bella are relatively new arrival.
Bella used to belong to a farm. She was raised by cows. Her mother was a farm dog as well. She died before her puppies were weaned. She then nursed a goat and was left to take care of herself with two newborn calves. She moos and does the goat sound of bah, bah. When she wants to please you she shows only her front teeth and wags her tail. She is quite the character. Her story is not the subject of this story. Her story is important to understand what she is saying during the telling of this story.
The box was large but I managed to get it inside the house without much difficulty. Bella was busy sniffing. I did not know she could read as well as speak 'cow'. I pulled out all the smaller boxes. She zeroed in only on the ones for dogs. She ignored the 'squirrel' boxes and the 'tortoise' boxes. The smell was not the issue because the contents, as well as the box, were also enclosed in outside boxes labeled 'for dogs'. No one can make me believe she could not read that. I can't believe I just made that statement. I decided to test my theory. I put some of the dog biscuits inside a box marked 'squirrel food'. Bella wanted nothing to do with it. She wanted the box marked 'for dogs'. The test made me remember another time when the kind of box was so important.
My daddy was going to give my mother a very special broach for mother's day. He combined all of our birthstones into one bug. I had helped him design it. It contained several carnelian stones, sardonyx, and several diamonds. The design was that of a butterfly. The butterfly was my mother's favorite bug.
We had tried the bumblebee, dragonfly, but settled on the butterfly. Daddy had spent an entire year collecting the industrial-grade, raw stones. He was a master cutter and spent hours polishing to make it right. We had set it in a platinum setting to hold the outer stones and a yellow gold setting to hold the stones for the insect body. The emerald cut diamonds created the outside line of the wings. Oval and round diamonds made up the body. The wings were created with the dark red sardonyx in the top wings and the burnt orange carnelian stones marked the lower wings. It was truly a beautiful piece. The body of the butterfly was a 22-carat oval cut diamond surrounded by smaller round stones for the upper body and a smaller 12-carat oval made up the lower body. The antenna were yellow gold. The broach I believe daddy appraised it at half a million dollars. You always ensure for replacement value according to Daddy. I remember how many hours he would sit in his shop working on it. He was always making custom pieces for people so my mom did not ask questions. It was truly a labor of love.
We were not that wealthy but my father was a gemologist and sometimes his services were paid for with gems. He bartered gems as little boys do with frogs or bottle caps. He never had much cash on him, but he could always pull a sparkle out of his pocket.
Daddy, my sister, and I were all having breakfast together one morning. Daddy said mommy's present was finished and we needed to get it wrapped. Grandmother had promised to get Mommy out of the house so we could do that. She and Mommy were gone for a while.
We were very excited. Daddy had finished eating. He pulled the broach out of his pocket. It was beautiful. It was about two inches in diameter. So much sparkle. My sister and I just squealed looking at it. Daddy had left to look through the closet for a box to put it in before wrapping it. I was reading the cereal box. It said, 'prize inside' on the outside of the box. Oh, how much fun would that be? My sister and I were grinning and shaking our heads up and down when Daddy came back into the room. I told him about the brilliant idea we had. We wanted to put the ring inside the cereal box and wrap it. I showed him the writing on the box, 'prize inside.' He clapped his hands. Now you know he is in trouble for taking the advice of a six-year-old and an eight-year-old. Poor Daddy.
We wrapped the broach in the cereal box. My sister did our bit first by eating an entire box of cereal. No one ever thought about putting it into something else. Anyway, Daddy did the paper while my sister and I created bows. Lots of bows and ribbon. I think there was much more ribbon than there should have been. My mother came home from shopping to a dinner cooked by Daddy (grilled outside) and her two daughters (baked potatoes and salad). I think Daddy did desert too, Jello. We really rushed through dinner. We wanted to get to the giving part. They had decided they would do her mother's day gift after dinner.
The time had come. The dinner table had been cleared. Grandmother wanted to start the dishes soaking so was busy in the kitchen. We could not stand it any longer. We begged for Mommy to open her present.
She looked at the mountain of bows and ribbon and laughed. She tried to get into the box but could not. There was so much ribbon she would cut one and find another. She kept cutting and pulling. It was funny at first then not so funny. By the time she got to the cereal box, she was not very happy. We had yelled happy mother's day when she got to the box. She looked at this, what seemed to be a box of Post Toasties, and then looked back at us. We were clapping our hands and laughing. She looked at Daddy. He pointed to the writing on the box, 'the prize inside'. She ripped open the box, which was full of shredded paper. She got up, went to the back door, pulled out a wad of the shredded paper inside, and threw the contents of the entire box into the backyard. She started crying, walked past all of us, and went to their bedroom, and slammed the door shut. She thought we were pulling a practical joke on her.
My sister and I were heartbroken. We had no idea what went wrong. When grandmother came into the room she tried to cheer Daddy up. She said, "At least she didn't throw it down the garbage disposal." Daddy just looked at her as if she was crazy. I thought it was funny. It had started to rain. The rain got harder. We knew we were going to have to try and find that sparkling bug somewhere outside in the backyard. If the wind had not been blowing so hard when she threw the contents out, it would have been easier.
Daddy knew to let Mommy have her cry. He also knew, as did the rest of us that something special was still in the future. We had to find that bug first. We had storms for three days. Mother and Daddy made up when Daddy had decided how to fix part of the problem.
He had put together all the design papers and the drawings made and put them inside Mother's, "Mother's Day" card. She was red-eyed, no makeup, and in her bathrobe when her mother pulled her to the kitchen table and ordered her to sit down. We gave her the card. When she saw all the drawings of the beautiful bug we had designed her mouth fell open. Then she screamed as her eyes got bigger. "Oh, my. What have I done? I threw it out in the wind and now it is storming."
Daddy shrugged his shoulders. "It is insured, for half a million." He looked at her. "That is the retail or replacement value of the stones. It will take a while for me to find enough to make another one."
Mother screamed again. "Half a million?"
"I bet we got the only backyard with a half a million-dollar bug in it." No one seemed to appreciate my humor. They all looked at me, but no one laughed.
The storm was raging. There was no way we could go out and look for a bug. Not even a half a million-dollar bug. Just think. If Daddy had put the gift into a jewelry box we would all be admiring it on Mommy's shoulder. The butterfly scarf grandmother had given her would be wrapped around her shoulders and she would be wearing that beautiful bug.
We did finally find the 'bug'. It was caught on a tiny nail grandmother used to hang the clothespin bag. We looked for a week every day. We each took a different section of the yard. Then it was laundry day. That was the best day of the whole year as far as we were concerned. Daddy was worried that his claim on the insurance might not be paid. "Throwing it away in the backyard" is not much of an excuse for losing something.
It is fun to wrap gifts in boxes marked for something else. Make sure the box on the outside is worth less than the gift inside. Grandmother made the mistake of wrapping a coffee mug in a box labeled a camera. The mug was a disappointment. A diamond broach marked Post Toasties is also not recommended.
Approach this season of gift-giving with love and joy. Remember, no matter what the box is labeled, no matter what is inside the box, love is the reason for the gift.
"Moo, Moo, Bah, Bah, Moo oooo." Bella is wagging her tail, sniffing the box, and smiling back at me. She has brought me the food for the squirrels, it seems they are up now.
Do you think it is luck or do you think she can read?