So much of life is contained in small things. What holds meaning for you?
Each week, The Washington Post Magazine publishes a column featuring small essays about items that are important to us. This week’s column was a beautiful reflection on a religious medal that the author’s family carried through several generations.
As I baked our annual candy cane cookies and packed them away in the Ward Paradise Fruit Cake tin, I realized that Christmas is all about the items of significance—the ornament, the wreath, the candle or nativity set. It’s easy to go to the store and buy everything at once, but it’s collecting the old, small, hand-made or important over time that makes Christmas. When my parents give us “heritage” gifts, these special items beat a store-bought presents any day.
I don’t know when I became the keeper of this tin that my mom used to pack away cherry winks, snowballs, and other Christmas cookies. I suspect I appropriated it one year in my young mother days and didn’t give it back.
This Ward Baking Co. tin was designed to hold a fruit cake, and my quick research reveals its from the 1920’s. My mother thinks that the tin was manufactured by the Continental Can Company, where my Aunt Pauline worked for most of her life. Pauline may have given it to my mom in some ordinary transaction, like taking home leftovers in Tupperware. I don’t know. Ward Baking Company, I learned, became the largest bread distributor in the country, the baker of Wonder enriched bread products and the maker of Hostess Twinkies.
Chances are the beautiful tin with the birds of paradise on the top may have been an ordinary object for many in the mid-1900’s, but it’s bruised and scratched surface is made more beautiful now to me by years of use and Christmas memories.