An Object With Unexpected Significance…

Yesterday, Jane and I and several other guests had the pleasure of spending a lovely afternoon with the creative, fun, smart ladies from Daily Grommet. If you haven’t discovered this site yet… well, you simply must do it soon. Or now. The Daily Grommet is all about discovering “Fresh finds” and telling the stories of their creators. Just think how wonderful it is to add the story of a product when you give it as a gift…

We were given delightful parting gifts… Tea forté’s “The Autumn Collection” of 20 silken infusers, a jar of scrumptious (I devoured them!) Root Cellar Preserves’ Bread and Butter Sweet Pickle Chips, and a book. When I arrived home late yesterday afternoon, I immediately brewed a tantalizing cup of Apple Pomegranate Tea forté tea. I dipped dug into the entire jar of pickles. And I began to read my new book, Taking Things Seriously… 75 Objects With Unexpected Significance, by Joshua Glenn & Carol Hayes. It tells the stories of 75 people, each with an object that means something… and the meaning of this otherwise insignificant object that holds such great meaning and significance to the owner. I laughed. I cried. I called people to read certain passages. I emailed friends.

Then my object came to me. My object that holds memories and dreams and sentiments beyond the aluminum exterior and the faded imprint of the manufacturer, “Tala.” My object is an icing dispenser set. It includes the cylindrical dispenser itself with its long push mechanism and round pink finger steadier, and its 5 original decorating tips.

It has to be well over 50 years old, because my first memory of it is from my very early childhood. It is the memories that bring the magical significance. It is the memories of my dad’s hands steadying that little dispenser as he so carefully and so creatively built masterpieces from plain old cake. I still remember the first time I watched my dad use this set. He most probably used it many times before this, but my memories begin with my older brother’s chocolate truck cake with its intricate details. My dad carved and cut and built and decorated tires, a steering wheel, windows, and even windshield wipers. His work was meticulous. But fun. Always fun. He sang and talked and winked at me while he was working. I still remember feeling sad that my brother had to make wishes on its birthday candles and then carve slices for the guests.

Then… year after year, birthday after birthday, time after time, I would watch my dad carefully move the pieces of the set and swirl his special magic. He always let me help. We mixed different colors and textures of icing for different cake projects. We wove flowers and names and dates and characters… and stories. Story after story. Year after year. The icing dispenser set meant something to my dad. I could tell. I knew from the first moment. This was a man who did not have an easy childhood. This was a tough man who spent most of his life in the United States Navy, often away from home for months and months at a time. But this was a man who had a heart of gold and hands to match. He was creative in ways that I am still astonished to think about. And this is why my object of unexpected significance is the icing disperser set.

My dad died before he could decorate a cake for any of his grandchildren. But my dad’s hands and heart and creativity and love are written all over the faded manufacturer’s stamp on his icing dispenser set. I have spent my entire adulthood wrapping this set and moving it from home to home… always taking it out and looking at it with such love and warmth and happiness. Today, I share it with the world. And tonight, I will be baking a cake. Decorating it. And loving each second of my creation. I know my dad’s hands will be guiding me.

Isn’t it funny how a little luncheon with new friends who are so very interested in stories… and a little gift of a book… is able to stir a story in me. Thanks, Daily Grommet. And thank you, Dad… my angel.

Oh. And one more thing. What is your Object With Unexpected Significance… and will you share its story?

SHOWHIDE Comments (7)
  1. How cool that your dad had such a creative gift with cakes. I’m always in awe of those who can make masterpieces out of food–especially since I’m far too impatient. I love the story behind your Object.
    I’m not quite sure what mine is… this is definitely something I need to think about!

  2. Sharon, I love this story. My Dad was in the navy too, though his cooking was always more experimental than delicious (toasted tuna sandwiches with olives, cheese and ketchup anyone?) … but such fun memories. We loved having you and Jane up to visit Daily Grommet. You really do have such great stories and insights to share.

  3. Sharon,
    If the authors of this book had only known you before they finished the project! Your reflections would be a terrific addition. And those of us who made your acquaintance yesterday in our offices are all grateful to now be in your circle of story recipients.

  4. Sharon, what a BEAUTIFULLY written piece. My dad died when I was 14, and there are times when I still miss him terribly (nearly 30 years later). He and I used to go fishing together, and while he was sick, he scratched out an illustration of how to rig a fishing line for me. That scrap of paper, written from his hospital bed, is perhaps my most valuable keepsake from him. The love and attention and advice (on life, fishing and beyond) from those small moments spent fishing or just piddling are captured on that piece of paper for me. Hope you enjoy your cake-making tonight! And I adored meeting you at Daily Grommet yesterday. Thank you for coming.

  5. Oh, what a priceless story. Show us your cake after you make it. I have a small potato peeler/grater that belonged to my beloved mother-in-law who passed away and was my best friend. I cherish it and I can picture her beautiful smile when I use it.
    Thank you for the comment on my blog about getting well to hold grandbabies. Would you believe I did just that today? I got to hold all 5 of them.