Downsizing: The White Elephant

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White Elephant

“I wanted to give you your first white elephant,” my mom’s kooky friend said as we unpacked the wedding present.

And she did.

We found the elephant so homely, we never put her on the wall.

But we’ve never gotten rid of her either.

“We gave her away, didn’t we?” Cliff asked at dinner a year or so ago.

“Yes, I’m pretty sure we did,” I answered.

But in our attic downsizing project this summer, we found her in a dusty corner in her original box.

It’s funny what a lot of years will do to you.

Now I see her charm. Her whimsy. And the skill it took to make her.

Cliff found the perfect spot, high above a cabinet in our downstairs bathroom. She won’t have to be a working towel rack; she can just be Elephant Queen of the Powder Room. She deserves it after how we’ve treated her for the last 37 years.

What about you? Any treasured white elephants in your life?

White Elephant!  Where did the expression come from? From real white elephants! Read it here on Wikipedia.

White elephant

22 responses »

  1. An old friend of my Mother’s gave me a nice floral (violets) tea pot as a wedding gift. I would never use it or buy it, but I treasure it..? How funny that is actually a White Elephant.

  2. That is a funny gift. Glad it has come into the light! I had a wedding gift of 2 wine glasses that looked like odd faces. They finally went to the charity shop a couple of years ago. I don’t know why I held on to them for so long.

  3. Cute story, Barbara. As we downsize I’m trying to get rid of accumulated stuff in our attics too. No white elephants–but lots of tussles between me wanting to hang onto things, and my husband wanting to throw things out!

  4. And you have hit upon the very problem with a wedding gift registry! No more “what the heck is that?” “who sent that” or “do you think we could re-gift it?” No more opportunities to show the giftee what a talented gifter we are! We received what I think was a handmade pewter sugar and creamer set, but I’ll never know since the tall creamer has been a vase for 35 years and I don’t know where the sugar bowl is?!

  5. How cute!! I will have to take note of this cute elephant next time I am at your house. I love finding hidden gems that have been packed away and forgotten! Usually brings back nice memories. Fun post!!

  6. I love this white elephant story (and the info on Wikipedia was really interesting)!
    Seems that Cliff and you have a very good design sense in terms of where it ultimately was placed in your home! What a sense of humor this gift-giver had! However, I really kind of like that elephant!

    Oh, and when you said, “Now I see her charm. Her whimsy. And the skill it took to make her,” that’s of course, the gift of age!

  7. About that broken tusk. Years ago (many, many!) when I was in my twenties, I showed my future husband a large white scar on the underneath side of my forearm (that I got from scalding coffee spilled whilst trying to juggle several coffee cups in one hand as a waitress in college).

    In our twenties, we are so often trying to look for or strive for perfection in many ways (back then, in terms of the way our body looked, it was achieved via working out to Jane Fonda, etc.!). So, I was embarassed by my scar. What I will never forget was my future husband’s response.

    He said, “What’s wrong with that? It shows that you’ve lived.” And, the way that I look at it, so does that possibly broken tusk! And, the elephant still has a glimmer in her eye! That is what I see as “appealing”! Glad that she won’t have to be a working towel rack, although I bet she wouldn’t mind!

  8. Your charming elephant looks handmade to me (at least from the picture). How fun to give a handmade “white elephant” to a friend! Bet it was a joke initially but now she’s just sweet.

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