Dusting off Memories

As I cleaned my plastic Elvis collection one recent winter day, I contemplated why I keep these often dusty figurines. Many of them are Christmas ornaments, though they’re always on display. All of them were gifts. Most were from my mother — and there you have the reason for my all-year Elvis season. I find it hard to rid myself of things with any connection to her.

elvis-shelfThe little statuettes inhabit a 2-foot-long shelf up above the linen cabinet in the hallway, about 6 feet up from the floor. It’s a height at which it’s easy to ignore how grimy they become. But a few times a year I take them down from the shelf, one King at a time. With cotton swabs and a rag cut from an old cotton bed sheet dosed in lemon-scented furniture polish, I dust the Elvi.*

My Elvis-sortment includes several versions of Jumpsuit Elvis and 1968 Comeback Special Black Leather Elvis. Hound Dog Elvis and Teddy Bear Elvis hang out with Blue Hawaii Elvis and Gold Lamé Elvis. There’s a Louisiana Hayride Tour Elvis and Serving the Country Army Elvis. Some play music — Blue Christmas or Burning Love — but most are silent on the shelf. One by one I remove the dust from each Elvis and from the shelf, recalling how my mother came across boxed sets of Elvis ornaments in the Fleet Farm Christmas aisle a dozen or more years ago. Thinking of me, she snatched them up. She often bought me Elvis stuff because she thought I would like it. And she was right, though she probably never knew how important it was to me that the items came from her.

One by one I rearrange the relatively dust-free figurines on the shelf and call my cleaning efforts good enough. My mother is gone, but my Elvi are still here — a tribute to my memories.

Laura Sternweis

*My preferred plural of Elvis

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