Shireen Fashion Blog
The Collars of Christmas
Posted by Shireen Sandoval 12/07/12, 12:11pm
Dirt kicked-up from the back tires of a 1960's Blue and White Cadillac DeVille, as it sped down a country road. I could see the white-wall tires from a distance, swerving side to side, trying to get traction. I couldn't make out the person inside the car, but it had to be her. I'd been waiting for weeks.
Once the Caddy came to a grinding halt, the car door swung open and a tall, beautiful blonde emerged. There she was, on the gravelled driveway: my grandmother. She didn't let me call her that, though. We were more, say, on a first name basis (Elsa & Shireen.) It's just the way it was. I didn't ask any questions. I was in the 5th grade and it made me feel important.
So Elsa, the big city girl, had driven her old, mint condition chariot to West Virginia to see her daughter (my mother,) in pretty much the middle of nowhere. At the time, my mom was in the middle of a "finding herself phase." Therefore, we "all" found ourselves living in a small town, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It wasn't easy, but when Elsa showed up, she made the mundane magical. That year she arrived just in time for the holidays.
Her trunk was bulging with gifts from stores I'd never heard of : Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue. I remember the gift wrapping. It was just as intriguing as what I would find inside the box. Elsa was generous. I was in love with the white roller-skates she bought me, with bright yellow toe stoppers. I was equally fascinated with the Siamese, feline stuffed animal. The cat was wearing the most decadent collar I'd ever seen. I perched it up on my dresser, only to be adored. I'd retrieve it every now and then just to run my hand over the beads around its neck. It was exquisite. That's one of the last memories I have of Elsa.
My mother and her mother never had a good relationship. It was fraught with turmoil, fighting, tears, and misunderstandings. Personally, I think it's because they were so much alike. Years later, my grandmother would die in my mother's arms. Cancer wrapped itself around Elsa and whispered her life good-bye. I witnessed this moment. My mother cradled Elsa like a baby. The roles were reversed, but the love between them was unspoken, undeniable. I knew at the moment, nothing else mattered.
My mother would never be the same again. As the years passed, I think the pain lessened. When she started letting go, she started giving me gifts (things that used to belong to Elsa,) especially around the holidays, things I suppose my grandmother would have given her. She generously handed over a braided, baby blue, beaded choker, a tight pearl necklace that starts at the throat and drapes down my decolletage and a black and gold, multi-tiered Onyx necklace (think Egyptian.) Each piece is perfectly cut to lay classically on the collar bone.
So it wasn't surprising, (when shopping for a holiday dress this year,) I was drawn to a frock with a beautiful, bedazzled neckline. It reminded me so much of Elsa, it stopped me in my tracks and sent me into a fifth grade fashion flashback. I walked up to the mannequin to get a closer look. I fingered the jewels one by one, that's when I noticed the collar wasn't attached to the dress. I lifted it up and off the dummy and delicately slid it around my neck. It even buttoned, yes, I said buttoned, in the back.
After that, I knew it didn't matter what dress I'd picked, because my new off-white, sparkly neck ornament, could gussy up any gown, but more importantly, I was continuing a fashionable family tradition, "The Collars of Christmas." I think Elsa would have liked it and maybe you will, too.
My cat-tast-tic look cost 65 dollars at www.kokopalenki.com