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I am always astounded that I ended up living in a tourist city because while working at various shows I would harp on and on about “tourist time” and how, in general, humans in large numbers can aggravate the hell out me. I have the pedestrian version of road rage and can’t stand people who aren’t looking where they are going. This combination of issues isn’t a good thing to walk into a craft show with. Every time I leave the booth to use the restroom or search for food I come back with a grim look on my face and many a snide comment bouncing around in my head.

Also, when selling inspirational ornaments you can only have so many people ask you to draw a frog, snoopy, or Winnie the pooh before wanting to drop the smile and ask them if they are really just that stupid.

However, even with all of that drama going on - working at shows like these does something so wonderful to my heart that I keep coming back for more. Every once and a while you get a customer that makes you feel like what you do really means something to them. Sadly, more often then not, the more poignant ones are related to tragedy and thus the memorial ornaments.

Some of my more memorable moments:
  • This past show I had a mother who had been coming to the craft show for over five years with her ailing daughter. The daughter had been fighting cancer for several years and bought an ornament each year to signify her life and continued fight. She left all the ornaments out around her bedroom year round. This past June she passed away and while at the hospital told her mother that she wanted her to buy her a memorial ornament from us. The mother told me all this with glassy eyes and showed me a beautiful picture of her 25 year old daughter laughing. It is often harder for me to keep it together when the person I am talking to isn’t crying ... I know that sounds odd but sometimes that makes the pain more present on their face.
  • I had another woman come by who bought a memorial ornament for her father who had passed away 6 days earlier. While buying a stand for the ornament she shared with me about him and how close they had been. I asked if it was a surprise or had they been expecting it – she told me that it was a surprise. She then told me that in the past two years she lost both of her sons as well – one to cancer and another to a gunshot wound. She said that she now had no men left in her family and was depending on her faith in God to go on. I honestly didn’t know what to say to her ... how to comfort her. I had nothing in personal life experience (thankfully) to even slightly grasp what she must be going through.
  • One from my past that will always stay with me is a customer who called our business a couple of months after Christmas. Their father had bought ornament from us and personalized it to them. It was wrapped under the tree when he died in a car accident before Christmas. I don’t know what the ornament said to the daughter but it must have given them comfort – they kept it out next to their bed since opening it. The problem was that it had gotten broken and they desperately wanted it replaced. My mother sent them a personalized replacement and told me what happened. I was doubly shocked that something I did – and probably at the time gave no more thought to than making sure my lines were straight – meant so much to someone. I also was struck by the fact that this man passed through my life not too long before his ended. It is an eerie thing to have such a strong impact without being at all aware.
We sell a lot more engagement, just married, expecting, and babies first ornaments then any others (like the memorials) - so the stories aren't always depressing. Yet, I remember the other ones that I had to blink around my tears to do more. Sadly - joy can get generic after a point. I assume that many of the ornaments we sell will find a special place in a memory box or on a mantle ... and surely others will go straight to eBay.It is hard for me to wrap my head around but it is such an amazing thing to be a part of. Mom jokes that I have “gypsy blood” now because I have trouble walking away from all of it. I have to agree. I will honestly be sad if (or more likely when) I come to a point where it is no longer a part of my life.

For now I will enjoy it and take away the lessons that everyone has to teach me – through both their joy and pain.

As I grow to understand life less and less, I learn to live it more and more

~ Jules Renard ~

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
sartorias
Nov. 19th, 2009 04:13 am (UTC)
Phew, very poignant--very.
aniaj
Nov. 19th, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
You should post pictures of your ornaments...I'm curious to see what they look like.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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