Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The power of the sticky note

My family is weird. We are very weird and are full of weird little traditions and rituals. 

Back before I was born my grandfather had quadruple bypass heart surgery. This was back when such surgeries were still fairly new and you couldn't just go to your local hospital, or most likely a hospital in your city necessarily to have the surgery done. As it was my grandfather had to go to Houston to have his done.

While he was in Houston for the surgery, my mother and her sister went to my grandparents condo in Connecticut to watch things. Faced with thoughts of their father mortality they did what seemed natural to them, and probably most of us honestly; they got drunk.

It was at this point that they, while incredibly inebriated, took a packet of sticky notes and began to label my grandparents possessions. They were placing a note with their name on it on anything that they wanted to claim for themselves in the eventual event of my grandparent's passing. As the story goes they were not so drunk as to forget that they had a brother who also deserved some of the things they were dividing up. They left to him one of the antique clocks that came from Europe, but nothing else.

I believe they also left the sticky notes up for my grandparents to find when they came home. What can I say, that is the sort of sense of humor my family has. I told you we are weird. It became one of those things in our family though. I knew this story from the time I was very young, and it was always told with a laugh, almost like a joke.

For years we joked that should we see anything that we wanted in the family we should put a sticky  note on it to get our claim in. I have to again remind you that while this is the sort of humor my family has, it is also sort of the way we operate. Yes it seems odd, however it is how we work.

So several years ago, probably five or six years now, my mother bought a number of beautiful antique pieces on craigs list. The family was a well to do one that was selling everything they owned so they could move to Europe and start over as they felt they needed something different in life. So my mom got these things super cheap. 

Among the pieces there was a beautiful antique hall tree. For those of you who are thinking, what the hell is a hall tree, let me explain. It is a narrow cabinet that is generally used in small spaces like entrance halls. You see a lot with coat hooks on them so that they can go next to doors in entryways. This one had no hooks, but it had a mirror. It was beautiful. I was in love with it from the moment I saw it.

My mother told me how my sister also loved the piece and had said that some day she wanted to have it. I responded in the only way I knew how; I asked if she had labeled it yet. My mother laughed and told me that no she hadn't. I practically ran to the office to find the sticky notes, and affixed one with my name on it to the inside cabinet door. My sister could want it all she liked, she didn't put a sticky note on it, so I won.

Of course when my sister found out about this she tried to pull my label off. She insisted that she had said she wanted it first, but my mother would not hear it. She stuck by my sticky note and insisted that had my sister been serious that she should have labeled it first. My sticky note remained.

Recently, with the passing of my grandmother, my mother has inherited new furniture. She is also moving into my grandmothers house, and is making a lot of changes in the things in her home. I had inherited an antique writing desk from my grandmother which I had to go and pick up, and my mom decided to give me some furniture she no longer wanted. Among the items was the hall tree.

I was so excited.
We didn't tell my sister.

I got it home and had it in place and decorated within five minutes.

Right by my front door.

It looks wonderful, like it always belonged there.


I wonder if I can take the note off now...


  1. Love your family's sense of humor - and its nice to see such a lovely piece staying in the family. Fun read!

  2.  We are quirky.
    My mom actually signed the back of the pieces to me and the husbeast, so forever people will know that they were given with love to us.

  3. Catherine ChambersJune 26, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    Why am I not shocked that you came out of that family? Reading this made my heart smile :) never underestimate the power of dibs!

  4. The hall tree is GORGEOUS! And I love the sticky note tradition. Quirky and adorable.

  5.  I am definitely a product of my family, and am so alright with that.

  6.  You can see why I jumped all over it right?
    And I think quirky and adorable sum up a lot of the traditions in my family quite nicely.

  7. I'm sorry, but I have to correct one thing....we left my brother the can opener as well as the antique clock.  However, since my brother is no longer with us, the can opener has been claimed by someone else, who holds special memories with that opener between her and my mom.  That someone has the opener, and will be taking it to college with her this fall.  I wonder how many stories that opener can tell, much less how many more stories it will collect!?!  Sometimes its a good thing that walls truly do not talk!