This is the first talisman that I can remember identifying for myself: a yellow Tupperware creamer that my family used as a sugar dispenser. My mother noticed this one sitting on my kitchen counter last weekend and asked if it was the one from her house. “No, I found that one on eBay ” I explained. I didn’t explain WHY I was on eBay looking for an old Tupperware creamer, now did I?
When I was about 7 or 8, I was already old enough to know that money wasn’t an easy thing for our family. There were times when there wasn’t enough and that was just the way it was. One night while my parents were watching the evening news, I heard the anchorman foretelling some shock to the global economy that would send sugar prices sky-rocketing. SUGAR? I was old enough to understand that and know its value! I sidled into the kitchen and opened up the cabinet above the coffee maker. I took down the sugar dish and checked to make sure that it was full. It was. And that meant that we were OK. To this day, I can remember the weight of that full sugar dish in my small hand and the feeling of safety that crept through me. If sugar was expensive and we had plenty, we were OK.
I can’t remember what knocked that memory of the comforting sugar dish back into place. When eBay first took off, I took advantage of the opportunity to reclaim lost things from my childhood. I found an old aluminum cookie cutter shaped like a horse and another shaped like a bunny. I found a yellow sugar dish all my own. One Christmas, Fartbuster won me a 1946 edition of The Littlest Angel exactly like the version our Grandmother Eunice read to us when we spent the night with her. I bought a blue glass slipper like the one she used to hold her bobby pins.
I surrounded myself with things that made me feel safe and loved. That’s all a talisman is. There’s not magic inherent in it, only the magic you entrust to it.
What makes you feel safe? Shake the memory loose then go and find it again.
* A phylactery is the small leather box containing Hebrew texts on vellum, worn by Jewish men at morning prayer as a reminder to keep the law. I learned a new word today, how about you?