The Cuckoo Clock My Grandmother Gave Me
When I was a little girl, my grandmother had the most amazing German cuckoo clock I have ever seen. It is funny how the things you remember from your childhood can be some of the most insignificant things imaginable. Like how a particular apple pie tasted that your mother used to make, or how the grass smelled after your father cut it, or hearing a song that was popular at the time. Tasting, smelling, and hearing these things again always seems to evoke memories of those simpler, more innocent days of our youth. For me, the sound of the cuckoo chirping from the cuckoo clock that my grandmother owned always brings back those fond and wonderful memories I have of being with my grandmother as a child.
Every summer since I was five, my parents would put me on a plane and fly me all the way across the country to spend an entire month at the home of my grandparents in Connecticut. I always looked forward to this time away from my home because my grandmother would spoil me by giving me candy, letting me stay up late, and buying me toys at the mall! While I have many fond memories of spending these summers with my grandmother, the one that really stands out in my and always makes me think of these summers is the magical and mysterious sound that her old German cuckoo clock would make every time I stayed there.
The house that my grandparents owned always seemed like a beautiful museum to me when I was a little girl. I guess it was because it was so different from the one that I lived in with my parents. My favorite room in the house was their huge formal living room. I was absolutely enamored with that room and wanted to spend as much time in there as possible. It was so perfect and fancy that I always felt like I was in a palace and would pretend that I was a beautiful princess. My grandmother would let me play in the room, but I always had to promise to be careful not to break any of the beautiful collectibles she had in there.
There was a gorgeous Victorian style sofa in the room with big bright flowers on it that my grandmother had inherited from her own mother. Next to the sofa was a tall, glass curio cabinet with lights on the inside that held all of the most treasured heirlooms my grandmother had collected. Inside the cabinet were the loveliest ceramic figurines of three beautiful ladies dancing around in their long flowing skirts. I used to pretend that these figurines would come to life and we would dance around the living room like tiny prim ballerinas. Hanging next to the curio cabinet was her beautiful German cuckoo clock. This was no simple clock, however, because it was an original German cuckoo clock that my great-grandmother had brought over with her when she emigrated from Germany as a young woman. In fact, this German cuckoo clock was more like a priceless work of art that demanded your full attention when you walked into the room.
The German cuckoo clock was shaped like a Bavarian chalet with individual shingles forming the roof, multiple windows with little shutters to the sides, and miniature trees and leaves intricately carved in the front and sides of the cuckoo clock. There were tiny little details like a waterwheel for pumping water, grass for the animals to graze, and beams to hold up the second floor balcony on the front of the cuckoo clock. My favorite parts of this German cuckoo clock, however, were the miniature wooden people that lived inside the little cuckoo clock. There were two German men sitting at a table drinking beer, a pair of lovers sitting on the bench out front of the chalet having a kiss, and on top of the balcony were several couples spinning around dancing inside the chalet. To my childhood eyes, this was the most wonderful little world imaginable.
At the top and bottom of each hour, the bird inside the German cuckoo clock would come out of his roost and announce the time, but it was the top of the hour that I would always wait patiently for because this was when the real show began. Every time the new hour struck, the German cuckoo clock would come to life and everyone inside this little world that I imagined was real would celebrate the hour by drinking, kissing, and dancing. The two German men sitting at the table would raise their glasses to their lips and the lovers turned their heads to kiss while the couples upstairs would come outside and do a little dance on the balcony. To me, this German cuckoo clock was a magical land filled with all of my little friends who waited in anticipation to join me and my ceramic figurine friends for a wonderful spin around the living room each afternoon. Of course, as I grew older, I spent less time dancing around with my German cuckoo clock friends in that living room, but I never lost that sense of wonder and imagination that came with each chirp of bird inside that German cuckoo clock.
Unfortunately, my grandmother is no longer here to spoil my own children, but she did leave me with those wonderful memories of dancing around her living room with my imaginary figurine girls and dancing cuckoo clock friends. Today, that very special German cuckoo clock hangs in my own formal living room. While it is nowhere as fancy as the one my grandmother kept, it is a special place for my German cuckoo clock stay and entertains my own children. Just as I had danced around the room like a princess in a faraway castle, so too do my little girls dance around the room with their own cuckoo clock friends and imaginary lands.