In Which Annie Makes Mom Cry

My mother SO wants me to want to have her hummel collection (and she has an entire curio cabinet filled with them–and if you know what a curio cabinet is, you probably know someone with a hummel collection) that for my birthday this year, she sent me a box filled with them.

But I, silly Annie that I am, thought it was sort of a weird joke.

You see, I have no doubt that I’ve made it quite clear, explicitly clear, that I have absolutely no interest in hummels or anything that could possibly break easily or anything that could possibly be called a “collectable”. Ever. That I live in a small house with two very, very active cats, no curio cabinet, and books piled on every available space, including the bathroom floor.  Knick knacks just don’t have a place here in my little world.

Yet for some reason, my mother swears she heard me say I wanted the hummels and she thought I’d be thrilled to get the first shipment for my birthday this year (along with a book on hummels I’d given her nearly 20 years ago).

Sigh.

Well, I talked to her today, told her that I was surprised she sent me the hummels, asked jokingly if she was planning on leaving this earth in the near future, because why would she send me the things of which I so desperately never wanted?

And then she started to cry.

I’m a shitty fucking daughter.

I live thousands of miles away and odds are slim that my mother, who hates to fly, will ever visit me here again: I should have accepted the first shipment of  hummels graciously,  resigned myself to many, many more shipments, and then kept them in a water-tight bin in the garage, to be passed along to my poor niece, nephew, stepdaughter or stepson who, with luck, suddenly developed an interest in antiques (and by then the damned things will officially be antiques).

Or, I should have accepted them, sold them on ebay, then sent my mother a lovely gift with the proceeds. But no, instead, I was my usually bull in the china shop blunt self  and under the ruse of being honest I childishly demanded that my mother remember who the hell I am: so NOT a woman who would want a collection of hummel figurines.

Will she ever forgive me?

UPDATE Dec. 1st:

I called mom this morning and we chatted for a bit. She explained why it was so important for her that I want her Hummels: she said when she was growing up (poor, very working class, big family) the families she admired had Hummels in glass cases. She associates them with wealth, something she wants to share with me (and this reminded me of the leather jacket she bought me once, when I was a teen–it wasn’t a bomber jacket but a jacket a woman her age would wear—-no doubt that, too, was part of the sharing her dreams with me).

The other issue is more about inheritance: she has several step children from various marriages, and she wants to make sure the precious Hummels don’t end up with them.

So, I do now understand where she is coming from. And I said that I’ve changed my mind. Hubby agreed to build me a SMALL chest that we can put on a wall where I could display a FEW of the Hummels, but that I would probably keep any others in a closet. She was ok with that, too, and immediately noted that when I visit in June that she would let me pick out a few more to take home with me.

Soon I’ll have the pictured umbrella Hummel after all. It seems those are worth a lot.

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19 responses to “In Which Annie Makes Mom Cry

  1. oh dear. i would have thought it was a joke too. i hate knickknack crap. stick them in the garage and never mention them again. you’re not a shitty fucking daughter.

  2. That totally sounds like something I would do. Except with my Mom it’s cow creamers. I kid you not. Little porcelain cow figures that spit creamer/milk.

  3. Oh my. The number of times I had similar conversations with my mother! She had no idea who I was; I kept trying to get her to acknowledge who I was, not who she wanted me to be. It never worked. My “favorite” instance of this was when I married and she started addressing mail to Mrs. Husband’s Name, when I had vociferously insisted since my early teens that I would never change my name (and did not: the Hulls are just for the blog). I guess it’s just one of those mother-daughter things. And I recognize the afterthought about trying to be gracious, too.

  4. Thanks, JC. So I’m not a total idiot for immediately thinking it was a joke (even tho my mother isn’t known for her wild sense of humor?)?

    And yes, the garage is where the first shipment is currently located. I didn’t even unwrap them all to look at them. I fear, so fear, the umbrella hummel (pictured in the posting)—for some reason, I think mom had dozens of those.

    And Bardiac, cow creamers? Really? I’m amazed. But oddly, they are at least kitsch of sorts–whereas Hummels are something entirely less amusing. BUT, I appreciate the fact that mom stopped at hummels (and those spoons you get at every tourist shop in the world: knock on wood–she hasn’t sent me those (yet)).

  5. Aw, that’s tough. You’re not a shitty daughter. You just weren’t *heard* (the part about not wanting them in the first place). Hugs.

  6. Oh, Dame, I just caught your posting. Get this: the Hummel package for MY birthday was addressed to Mrs. Annie Husband’s LAST NAME (not Em). I kid you not. I haven’t even bothered addressing that little dig oh these last many years.

    But thank you for confirming that my experience is universal. I’m entirely certain my mother doesn’t get the underlying issue here–just that I’m the ungrateful ejit who doesn’t want her precious hummels (yes, I’m that, too). I won’t see her in person until next summer, so I have time to prepare for such a conversation…

  7. Thanks, Ink. I’m loving you all for the support. I literally RAN out of the house after that phone call, and ran 6 miles in the cold sunshine this afternoon to release the ogida (not exactly my most energetic time of day).

  8. you *do* seem like a pretty shitty person. Smug and cunty, and obviously someone who values asserting their silly and petty identity over respecting the feelings of other people. Really, what would it cost you to be gracious? A modest amount of time, minutes really, putting the things in a storage box, and foregoing a chance to make sure everyone is aware of who YOU are and what YOU are all about. Pathetic.

  9. “Observer” is a troll — delete him with gusto, Auntie Em!

    I can understand why this experience was upsetting — who ever wants to see their mother cry? But, also a case of some minor miscommunication. You’ve got an opportunity to make it up to her next time: just apologize and profess to have just discovered that you actually think Hummel figurines are the most awesome thing ever. I bet she’ll believe you, just for her own peace of mind.

  10. I probably should delete the anonymous troll, but since s/he has so bluntly identified exactly how I felt after that phone conversation, I think I’ll let it stand (I wish I could edit the word “cunty” however).

    And, yes, I could just tell her I changed my mind and want the Hummels, though I’m not so sure she’d believe me at this point. And yes, I apologized profusely at the end of the call and via email.

    I almost hope it was a mis-communication and not a sign of something else—because really, I’ve told her many times (confirmed by hubby) that I didn’t want the hummels. That she suddenly thought I wanted them and truly believed that I said I wanted them is a bit odd, no?

  11. If it makes you feel better, I’ve got a box of hummels from my grandmother that lives in a box in my closet, and I’m also the inheritor of her collection of egg cups (though those still live at my mom’s house, and though I did weed out 2/3 of them to distribute among the rest of the family). My mom has a curio cabinet. While I have no interest in ever being the possessor of a curio cabinet, I have a feeling that I’ll get stuck with hers (along with her collection of head vases that resides within it) at some point in my future. Clearly I was not blessed with the collecting gene, but I will be forced to collect whether I like it or not!

    (And you’re not a bad person. You’re just not the sort of person who collects things that must be dusted and that are easily breakable.)

  12. Oh, and I don’t think it’s that weird that she decided you wanted them. People who collect that sort of thing just can’t fathom that anybody wouldn’t want their precious treasures. I’d go with that explanation unless any other weird things happen.

  13. Thanks for the comments Dr. C. , and I get your analysis: she may have truly never heard me say I don’t want them.

    I am hoping this is ultimately going to lead to some breakthrough conversations between the two of us–conversations we don’t generally have. So ultimately, the Hummel Incident may be remembered as a good thing (clearly I’m in a pollyanna place right now, but it’s a good place).

  14. “The Hummel Incident” sounds so catastrophic, like planetary collision or nuclear meltdown. I didn’t know what a “hummel” was until you wrote about it. Now I’m wondering WTH “egg cups” and “head vases” are? People collect weird shit. I collect dollars in my savings.

    Sounds like conversations between you and your mom might be why “The Hummel Incident” happened. Maybe she needs to tell you something and can’t.

  15. Update: I called mom this morning and we chatted for a bit. She explained why it was so important for her that I want her Hummels: she said when she was growing up (poor, very working class, big family) the families she admired had Hummels in glass cases. She associates them with wealth, something she wants to share with me (and this reminded me of the leather jacket she bought me once, when I was a teen–it wasn’t a bomber jacket but a jacket a woman her age would wear—-no doubt that, too, was part of the sharing her dream with me).

    The other issue is more inheritance: she has several step children from various marriages, and she wants to make sure the precious Hummels don’t end up with them.

    So, I do now understand where she is coming from. And I said that I’ve changed my mind. Hubby agreed to build me a SMALL chest that we can put on a wall where I could display a FEW of the Hummels, but that I would probably keep any others in a closet. She was ok with that, too, and immediately noted that when I visit in June that she would let me pick out a few more to take home with me.

    Soon I’ll have an umbrella hummel after all.

    And JC: did you read that my mother also collects spoons? Luckily, they have no sentimental value to her, yet.

  16. That’s very cool that you had the conversation with your Mother. Nicely done, Annie.

    (And methinks the troll might just be jealous of your inheritance…)

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