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My family and I live in an old two-story farmhouse with a dark basement and a creaky attic. Our attic isn’t a walkup. Instead, the access door is a big rectangle in the ceiling with a string hanging down. To enter, you pull the string, the door pulls down and a ladder folds out. My two kids have never been in our attic. But they have asked to go up there for a couple years now. Max and Amaya have been so intrigued by what lies on the other side of the door. I’m sure their imaginations ran wild with possibilities.

There is no reason why I kept them out, just simply timing. Usually, they would ask when it was bedtime or when we were getting ready to leave the house, at moments when we just didn’t have time to explore.

Well just a few days ago I took my kids up there. And it did not disappoint.

Addie Rugland

Addie Rugland

Truth be told, I was a little nervous about opening the door as it had been years since I was up there myself. I was worried a bat might fly out at me or some other creature would scurry by. I slowly pulled the string and lowered the door. Much to my relief, nothing happened. So I crawled up the ladder, turned on the light and let my kids scamper up behind me. And scamper they did!

Our attic is basically empty except for a few storage totes. There are little pieces of insulation on the floor, lots of dust and dead bugs. But to my kids there was so much more. For them, it was like opening a portal to another world to explore. They noticed our chimney, two windows to look out, old unused doors & doorknobs to investigate and simply square footage to discover. They were in heaven!

The few totes I had stored in the attic were filled with some of my miscellaneous childhood toys & mementos. Some were special to me and others were random toys I had left behind at my parent’s house when I got married. I had meant to pull these totes down for some time so my kids could go through them. After Max and Amaya spent a little more time investigating the attic we brought the totes downstairs to do a different kind of exploring.

My kids loved unpacking these new, old treasures. As a child of the 80’s, I had a container of toy figures including Care Bears and California Raisins. They found my collection of Strawberry Shortcake and Friends dolls. Max staked claim on my old stuffed Pound Puppie. They both wanted my chunk of purple amethyst rock. It was a favorite of mine, too, when I was their age.

My daughter found an old trick package of gum. You pull out the stick and a wire snaps your finger like a mousetrap. She is so excited to take it to school to try on her friends. Another old trick I had was a metal wind up piece you hold on the inside of your hand. When you shake someone’s hand it gives them a little buzz. They agreed to share that one.

Max fell in love with my old rabbit’s foot keychain. He is going to put it on his backpack. Amaya fell in love with a box of my old Barbie clothes. They both loved my old sticker books. Surprisingly, some of the scratch and sniff stickers still smell.

Max and Amaya weren’t impressed with everything in the totes. A few dolls didn’t age well and their eyes were crusted shut. They also didn’t like my Garbage Pail Kids card collection. In the 80’s, Cabbage Patch Dolls were a huge craze. As a comedic offshoot, Garbage Pail Kids were created as the gross, icky version of Cabbage Patch. My kids just thought they were weird. I couldn’t argue, they were.

My kids kept saying thank you for letting them go up in the attic and thank you for bringing down the totes! They were just so delighted! I never would have guessed a simple trip into the attic exploring would mean so much to them. It’s the little things that can bring so much joy.

I can remember as a child wishing I had a secret passageway in my house and envisioning what it would look like. When I was at my grandparents’ house I would explore the attic & wonder if there were secret nooks or passageways. The imagination can take you to fun places. So it was for my kids seeing that door on our ceiling up into the attic. Who knows what Max and Amaya envisioned was on the other side of the door. The possibilities were endless.

As we head into the holiday season I need to remember that the little things can delight and surprise just as much as the big things. And sometimes what is old can be new again.

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Addie Rugland is a freelance writer who lives in Northwood with her husband, daughter and son.

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