It’s hard for me to remember which Christmas item was more fragile. Each appeared in December with dire warnings of “don’t touch/you’ll break it.” But I do remember how hard it was to keep my grubby grade schooler’s fingers out of the box of Fanny Farmer ribbon candy and off of Mom’s delicate, handblown coffee pot, creamer, and sugar container.
I’d stare longingly into the candy box she kept on the highest kitchen shelf and, if I stared long enough (and did whatever chore had been assigned to me with a minimum of whining), I got to select one piece (“Just one, now, and no more”) of those translucent, melt-in-your-mouth strips of colored sugar.
Just as fragile but longer lasting were her dainty, hand-painted coffee ornaments. Their tiny movements in the smallest air currents caught my eye. I’d blow on them, trying to discover how close I had to be before my breath would set them moving.
And yes, they finally did break. But for once I was not the culprit.
Several years later in a charming St. Paul gift shop, I spotted the little coffee server in the photograph. She saw it hanging on my tree and admitted that it was she who had dropped that original and got the glass shards cleaned up before I got home from school
(Hmmm; I wonder what else she never told me.)