Christmas afternoon 2007:
My ex and I arrived at his parents house for our annual family dinner. It was kind of a weird time during the day because we had been bouncing around different celebrations with various friends and family. We walked into the kitchen where the family had gathered as his mom finished up the meal preparations.
That year was the second Christmas I’d spent with his family and the first where I had actually bought gifts for his parents. I don’t remember why I didn’t get anything for his sister, or maybe I did… I just really remember the gifts I got for his parents. My ex handed them each the envelopes with gift certificates I’d found at locations that he recommended. His mom tossed hers on the counter and continued finishing up dishes or some other kitchen chore while his dad took his envelope and opened it.
I really remember his dad’s reaction because it made me giggle. When he was handed the envelope he was apprehensive. Like what is this? Why are you giving me a gift? You could like see the wheels turning. He was really disinterested in the whole thing but being polite. I don’t know what he thought it was, but he definitely was not expecting what he got. He opened it, read it and responded with the most genuine: “Oh, thank you!” I’ve ever heard from an adult. He folded it and tucked it into his shirt pocket, thanked me again and immediately shot a death glare across the room at his son.
His mom had quietly opened her own gift during the surprise from his dad, and walked over with a dish towel in one hand and a small gift box in the other. “Thank you, dear. We’ll go together and get you some real nails so you don’t have to wear those cheap press on things. Although they are appropriate with your jeans.” She quipped. I’d purchased her a gift certificate to her favorite local salon/spa. The jeans remark was a stab at me for our last encounter during my ex’s birthday. It hit it’s intended target and while I started to reply that my nails were in fact acrylic that I had merely repainted to match my Christmas outfit my ex quietly shushed me instead.
“This is for you dear.” She said after folding the dish towel handing me the box.
I opened it. Inside I found a sterling necklace with gold kanji inscribed across the small round charm. It matched the earrings she had gifted me the year before.
“Isn’t it beautiful? I saw it and I immediately thought of you. It means happiness, and I wanted you to have it because you deserve happiness dear.” She explained. “Don’t you think she deserves happiness?” She directed across the room at her husband.
“Most certainly. She deserves happiness, loyalty, honesty and someone who treats her well. Don’t you think so, son?” He replied.
Now, mind you, this entire conversation is taking place with my ex (their son) standing less than two feet away. I was kind of offended and thought it was rather insensitive of them to be speaking about their son like that when he was standing right there so I ran over and gave him a giant hug and a kiss before he had a chance to reply to his dad.
“I am happy. He makes me happy. He treats me pretty well.”
Dad started to correct me, but before he could get the first word out Mom interrupted and asked him to help her carry food to the formal dining room. Which is where we had quite possibly the most awkward Christmas family dinner I’ve ever participated in. I felt really bad for my ex at the time because his level of abuse, dishonesty and other shenanigans hadn’t yet come to light.
Looking back on this exchange later, when I’m older and wiser I understand that his parents weren’t actually being cruel or insensitive, but merely trying to hold their son accountable for his behavior. He wasn’t treating me well, he wasn’t loyal or honest and I didn’t deserve to be miserable even though I didn’t yet understand that I was. Back in the day I took it very personally that his parents kept encouraging him to end the relationship. That’s the biggest reason why I never took the initiative to get to know them outside of basic pleasantries. I loved their son and listening to his bullshit about them never caring about him, or never loving him (ie never enabling him) I really had no interest in knowing them at all.
Which is one of my only regrets about how the entire relationship with their son panned out. I wish I had taken the opportunity to invest in building a relationship with them outside of their son. I wish I would have asked about his dad’s military career accomplishments, I wish I would have met his mom for lunch even if she did think less of my jeans, and I wish I would have really listened to his sister when she was sharing her experiences about her own life.
Anyway… can’t go back in time and change it now so: long story short(ish) the relationship ended and when it did I didn’t bother to keep the jewelry his mom gave me. I wrote about it back in December of last year I think… A friend of mine asked for the pendant and I gave it to her. The earrings disappeared in the shuffle of moving a million times during my young adulthood, but I never particularly cared until recently. Almost 12 years later lol.
Ever since I realized the true sentimental value I’ve been looking to replace them. Mostly the necklace since I can wear it at work and don’t have to worry about this kids running off with it. The earrings would be nice but impractical until the kids get older. I’ve been searching high and low all over the internet hoping to find something similar if not an exact match for almost a year now. It’s not something that I really put a whole bunch of effort into, but here and there when I have a moment to browse shopping sites I’ll look for them. I still haven’t found anything exactly like what I lost, but I did find this which is fairly close.
It’s sterling, the kanji is the same so I figured it was about as close as I could get after months of unfruitful searching. It was definitely better quality than all the costume jewelry alternatives that kept populating my search results so I bought it. After it shipped from the seller I discovered that it’s even closer than I thought. The damn thing is from Central Ohio, and the seller acquired it in a large lot of vintage old stock at an auction.
Excuse me while my BRAIN EXPLODES. Like I said it isn’t an exact match to my original set. Those were round, sterling and gold. This is square and completely sterling that’s tarnished to have a black patina behind the kanji. If anything it just happened to be made by the same designer/artisan but still… I’ve searched high and low for almost an entire year literally across the globe to find nothing even remotely close to my originals until this thing pops up in Central Ohio auctioned off in a lot. The seller didn’t remember the exact details of the auction, but she’s had it for a while.
It does make me wonder… the last time I spoke my ex’s mom she said she wanted to have lunch because she had something for me and wanted me to call her so we could get together. I never followed through with the phone call, and never spoke to her again after that. Since I’ve never been able to find anything else like her gifts anywhere else besides Central Ohio and this was lost in storage for who knows how long before it made it to auction… well now. That’s one big af coincidence right there.
It’s kind of neat to think about. This tiny little charm finally finding its way to it’s home over a decade later… Of course realistically it probably is just one big af coincidence. Lol. It certainly would be amazing if this eventually found it’s way here after so many years, but I doubt it. It’s been well loved and maintained during it’s previous life. The edges are worn and the careful polishing over the years has left tell tale scuffs and buffs ingrained into the sterling. It brought someone else many years of happiness before it wound up in a box at auction.
Regardless of it’s origins it does give me an idea for a new book, and coming from Ohio adds a layer of whimsy to something already sentimental. Winning all around!