Depending on where or when you grew up, what you may refer to as your purse, your neighbor next door may lovingly call her pocketbook or hand bag. From the utilitarian, functional look, to the status symbol, fashion statement, this item, carried around with us everywhere we go, contains our everyday personal items.
My first memories of carrying a purse was when I was a little girl on Easter morning. In addition to my frilly dress, gloves, white hat, and patent leather white shoes…I carried a purse. I remember thinking it was an awesome way to smuggle my Easter candy to church. In addition, I would meticulously fill it with my red, cherry Chapstick and of course a pack of tissues.
We definitely didn’t live in the “Forget the Frock” age.
I remember being dropped off in middle school at Seneca Showcase, our local, two feature movie theater. I would run in and find my friends who were also carrying their little purses around their neck and across their chest. It was a sign of growing up and learning to take care of yourself, even if it was only carrying enough cash to pay for your ticket, popcorn, and a drink. Unlike girls today, I didn’t have a phone in my purse. However, in its place I had at a quarter, given to me by my dad, along with a quick “call me and I’ll be there”. I kept it safe right beside my pack of tissue.
When Sophia, my oldest and now 11 yr. old, was a wee little girl, I would regularly hand her my purse and let her dig through it to keep her quiet when necessary. She would find random papers to write on or an old snack to enjoy from days before. Her favorite however, was lining up her tiny Polly Pockets then putting each one of them to “bed” using my tissues to cover each one of them with a “blanket”.
One day in church, Harrison, my only son and now 6 yr. old, was having a difficult time holding still and behaving. Since it had always worked with Sophia, I handed him my purse to explore. He quieted down and I began to enjoy the message…UNTIL…the woman sitting behind me gently tapped me on the shoulder and nodded her head in the direction of my son. I turned his way and immediately felt my face flush with embarrassment. He was swinging, above his head, an unwrapped tampon, by the string. He looked as if he was doing a Mexican Hat dance and my tampon was his festive dancing prop. I jump up to grab it just a moment AFTER he released his pinching grip on the string. It went catapulting through the air directly toward the back of a bald man’s head. Due to my cat-like reflexes, that I have developed since raising an active boy, I caught that SUPER sized torpedo! I gave a small curtsy to my audience behind and sat down, having learned a lesson.
My purse still manages the role of pantry, filled with a variety of snacks, as well as my family’s trash can on the go. It isn’t however, used any more as a babysitter. For this reason, I often tell my little Haley, who is 3, to pack a bag or purse before we leave so she will have something to quietly entertain herself. There have been times I have been tempted to question her packing and the need for a plate or one random sock but I then remember the universal rule. Don’t question what I consider an everyday personal item and I won’t question you. A girl just needs her stuff. Like my mother did, I do remind her, “don’t forget your tissues”!
There is the quite frequent occasion that I asked my sweet husband, Rick, to hold my purse for a moment. He’s not the kind of man who holds it out away from himself with one finger, so anyone wondering, would know that it wasn’t his. He is also not the type that swings it onto his shoulder and wears it like it is his own. He just carries it by his side only one time questioning the reason it was so heavy. He is now educated on the universal rule that I follow with Haley.
You see, we all need a little help sometimes. It may be holding our purse so we can shop a little more effectively, but other times it may be something significantly more. Where there are women, there will be purses. And with our help through the United Way’s Power of the Purse, more women will be digging through their purses looking for tissues to soak up tears induced by success, relief, laughter, gratefulness, joy, and hope for their children’s and their futures.
So come on March 18th to Harmony Ridge Gallery…and bring your purse…filled with plans to carry it home lighter. I guarantee that the money you leave will give you something it never could have bought.
“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.” Mother Teresa