A Family Heirloom

Many, many years ago, from the time I was in preschool through third grade, we lived in Texas. There are tons of evangelical Christians in Texas, and while our family went to church, we weren’t exactly fire-and-brimstone or let-me-tell-you-about-my-Lord-and-Savior about it.

I have four sisters (three older, one younger) along with a little brother. When the first of my sisters turned 16, she got a surprising birthday gift from one of her girlfriends.

“What kind of teenager buys their friend a plastic Virgin Mary statue for her 16th birthday?!?!” we all wondered. Or we would have wondered, if we didn’t know this friend personally. In retrospect, she was exactly the kind of teenager who might choose this special gift.

Mary took up residence in my sister’s bedroom, because, of course, we think Mary’s really quite lovely, and what else are you going to do? Throw her away?

But when it was time for my sister to go to college, well, Mary was not invited to her dorm. Besides, we all thought it was pretty hilarious to cast aside a potent (if plastic) symbol of virginity on the way to college. So my first sister passed it down to my second sister, who kept it until she went off to college and passed it down to my third sister, who passed it to me when she headed to college.

Now, it was while I was still in high school that our family had their first wedding, and it became clear that keeping Mary meant an important responsibility. Whoever has custody of Mary when a very special event is coming up–especially a wedding, but I think we’ve used her services a few other times, too–it’s absolutely essential to put Mary in a window, facing out, so that she can intercede on our behalf for good weather. Which is an old Catholic custom. And while the person with custody of Mary physically places her in the window, the rest of the family feels compelled to ensure that this duty has been carried out. On special occasions, my Mom and at least two sisters will call whoever’s got her to confirm that Mary’s been placed in the window.

And obviously, you can’t just leave Mary in the window all the time, because she is presumably fielding a massive number of intercession requests every single day, so it’s important that we save this measure for only the most important occasions. We do not want to take advantage of her goodness–I mean, it’s exhausting enough to be a mom, and she is the Blessed Mother.

Anyway. When I left for college, I passed Mary on to my little sister, who passed it to our niece when it was time to leave for college. And my niece had her little plastic companion for quite a while, but she left home for school in the fall. So recently, we got a very important package. Mary is now residing in M’s room, at least until August, when she’ll move next door to keep J company. And if you have a very, very important occasion that requires a blue sky, feel free to contact me.


  1. Big Sister

    LOVED. IT. PS: You are right, the friend who gave me this present way way way back in the day was exactly the kind of person who would. Thank you for sharing the story and preserving a special tradition!

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