Just yesterday I was a thirty-two year old mom with a year-old daughter and toddling nieces and nephews. Going to Grandma’s house meant packing up the car on a Sunday with dirty laundry and excited kids for day at my mother’s house.

Treasures awaited my daughter inside her grandma’s peach colored walls. Napkin drawers and jewelry drawers. Drawers with old make up. Drawers full of boxes of colored scarves. Drawers of old playing cards. And that very special one: The Tupperware Drawer. 

Today, going to Grandma’s house means coming to my house. A concept I eagerly embraced ever since the day my daughter told me she was pregnant. From that moment on, I couldn’t wait to meet my granddaughter.

Now, almost twelve years and three grandchildren later, that first grandchild has moved on to Snapchat and Instagram. She’s straddling the world between make-believe and believing in herself. 

But the toddler, well, he still rushes into my house as if he’s been shot from a canon. 

And inside my house there is a napkin drawer, a make-up drawer, cupboards full of boxes with crackers and cookies, and that all important drawer--the one with the Tupperware.

These containers, big and small, round and square, tall and short, are just waiting for his tiny hands to carry them to the center of the living room, to the center of his imagination.

He giggles. And with that giggle he unlocks my imagination.

The living room becomes a planet faraway in another galaxy. The hallway is the road twisting around the moon. The laundry basket is a washing machine ride, just the right size for a small child.

Read this next: Home and Home and Home for the Holidays

The bed is a gigantic elephant lumbering through the jungle. And the Tupperware bowls, they are funny round animals or the walls of a castle or odd shaped shoes taking us from Zanzazu to Appazoid.

They are vehicles taking us into the sixth dimension- into a place where there is no time, where there are no boundaries, no limits. To look at us, we are a grandma and grandson playing with everyday plastic containers. To be us, we are so much more.

His energy carries me through the afternoon. And then all too soon, it is time for him to leave.   

As he toddles out my door, he takes a part of me into his future. And I collapse on the couch, still smelling his sweet, clean, promising scent--already missing him, already eager for his next visit.

As I relax, memories rush at me. Time goes by way too fast. Soon he’ll be moving on to whatever new technology has been invented. 

But for now, the afternoon has left my whole body singing.  

And that bodysong stays with me as I pick up the space ship bowls. Put the washing machine away. Scoop up the magic planets. Stack the jungle lions one on top of the other.

Lastly and reluctantly, I close the Tupperware drawer.

Because I know, as does my mother, that a Tupperware container’s primary use is not for storing leftover food.

It’s for keeping memories.


Janie Emaus believes that when the world is falling apart, we're just one laugh away from putting it together again.  She writes about how life is NOW compared to THEN, with her special blend of funny and sweet. She is the author of the time travel romance, Before the After, and the young adult novel, Mercury in Retro Love.  And she has an essay in the Best Selling humor anthology, You Have Lipstick On Your Teeth.  She is a staff writer at In The Powder Roomand blogs frequently for The Huffington Post. She is proud to be named a 2013 BlogHer Voice of the Year. To learn more about Janie visit her blog www.theboomerrants.com and her website www.JanieEmaus.com.