Treasures of the Heart

By Rose Ann Sinay

My flea market Sundays are dwindling, I thought as I forced myself out of bed to get an early start. I pulled a thick sweater over my head, and debated adding a hooded sweatshirt.

I looked forward to my weekly visits to the land of discarded “stuff,” unique restorations and a trove of unexpected treasures. That and an old fashioned diner breakfast guaranteed a fun trip despite the cold weather.

It could be my last chance before Christmas to find the elusive good bones of a “wanna be” treasure that could be magically transformed into a mind-blowing and creatively satisfying gift. Of course, I won’t hold my breath.

I no longer made the painstaking, love-filled creations that I used to walk ten miles through two feet of snow and labored forever to create. Well, let’s just say my heart was in the right place, but my choices were not always on target.

In the past, my projects (usually triggered by a magazine photo or a ridiculously expensive store display) were received with mixed reviews. I mean, who didn’t want a burst of sunshine on their wall – a mirror in a lemon yellow frame with so many layers of high gloss polyurethane, you could see your reflection in the paint. Surely, it would blend into any décor (sigh). It had looked so sophisticated in the high-end catalog.

At some point, I had a Dr. Phil moment and realized a gift that was wanted or needed was more appreciated than a hand-painted set of wine glasses. I started giving checks and socks, instead of creative endeavors that would be stored in the attic.

But, here I was, scouring the aisles of The Elephant Trunk trying, once again, to find the framework of a potential da Vinci.

Halfway through the maze of vendors, I saw something that piqued my interest. A six foot piece of weathered barn board with the words “The Enchanted Forest” sprawled across it was balanced on a pull wagon. The shimmer of the chipped blue font in the November sun suggested a glitter finish. The new owner of the sign had a head of silver hair and a salt and pepper beard that rivaled the paint’s sparkle.

I stopped him. “I love your sign. What are you going to do with it? You’re not going to paint over it are you?”

“Oh no,” he said, smiling. It’s for my granddaughter. She and her parents will be away the week before Christmas. I will have one week to turn her bedroom into The Enchanted Forest. I can’t believe I found this sign. I’m going to build her a tree bed and hang those blinking white lights all over her room.

“Twinkling lights,” I said, “like fireflies.”

“Exactly!” he agreed with an excitement I understood.

“In aisle two there’s a vendor who has battery operated lanterns you could hang from branches,” I told him. I had considered buying them, but this man had a plan. “And, there are a couple of log stools over there.” I pointed at the child-sized chairs with exposed tree rings.

We brainstormed as he loaded up his wagon with treasures. He had the perfect gift. I was envious.

As we parted, my creative cells bubbled under the surface of my skin. There was something here, and I was going to find it.


I poured the contents of the three plastic storage boxes on the floor. I heard my husband groan. “You have enough Christmas decorations to decorate the entire neighborhood. Why would you buy more?”

“I’m making a gift,”

“I thought you were done with that,” he said skeptically and closed the door.

I began sorting the piles. In the first box, I put the miniature metal and wooden figurines (scenery from lost train sets): skaters, children throwing a snow ball or pulling a sled, carolers with their mouths frozen in a perfect “O.” There were tiny trees, hearts and Christmas wreaths. I added pine boxes and frames in different sizes and shapes that could be adorned with all the finery.

In the second box, I arranged the glue, scissors, paint, brushes, pipe cleaners and glitter –Michael’s (craft store) would be impressed. What I didn’t buy at the flea market was supplemented by my own ample supply.The third box was special. I wrapped the holiday dessert plates and tea cups (enough for our family and an unexpected friend or two). I chuckled when I picked up the ceramic berry cups flanked by the bright green frogs. Addie and Mila will love them. I added a hand-drawn picture recipe card. I could imagine Addie explaining the assembly instructions for the applesauce/graham cracker Christmas cake to her younger cousin. There was everything two little girls and their grandmother would need for a holiday tea and a lesson in giving.


I put the covers on the containers and sat back to contemplate this masterpiece. It was brilliant, really: three boxes of ordinary junk to be transformed into declarations of love by little hands and treasured for a lifetime. Broken items seen through new eyes will be transformed into unique tributes to their parents. I closed my own eyes. I could see the red and green cake – messy, lopsided and sweeter than a sugar-laden bakery confection – served with pride and swipes of missing frosting. There might be a broken cup or a stained dress, but on this day, it won’t matter.This family gift will be a celebration of life’s imperfections, love and the treasures of the heart.

No return receipt or storage space needed.

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer newly relocated to Connecticut. She continues to write about moments worth remembering, graciously provided by family and friends.

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3 Responses to “Treasures of the Heart”

  1. Tammy Rohlf says:

    Those are the very best kind of gifts. Made with that special person in mind and wrapped in love!

  2. Britt says:

    elephant trunk one of these days. I admire your ambition in writing and gift creating

  3. Erika Hoffman says:

    I envy your artistic skills. I wish I could make things with my hands, other than what I create with a pen! LOl

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