This I Believe

nan - grosse pointe park, Michigan
Entered on March 26, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: family

I believe in toilet paper. In my family it means love.

The idea usually crops up at a family dinner. We get around to wondering why a certain sibling, niece or nephew was unable to attend the evening’s festivities. The talk turns to a light jesting of the missing party. Jest turns to gossip, which quickly turns to thoughts of revenge. A Posse is soon rounded up. A driver is nominated. A few stops to collect extra rolls of toilet paper are made.

It’s difficult to describe the child like combination of glee and fear that flows through your body as you wrap, toss, roll and twist the paper around trees, cars, bushes and porch railings. The quiet, collective giggling of siblings gives you the courage to continue.

The best part of course comes when you hear “Run, she sees us!” or “Go, go, go…” We race to our cars and drive away speedily with the head lights off. The jig is up, but we still behave as if we are escaping discovery.

It used to be just a few siblings involved in the ritual. In the past few years, it has spread to the Grandparents. My mother joined in the papering for the first time on her 75th birthday. I was the victim of that particular outing. I had missed the birthday celebration at my Mom’s favorite restaurant by working late. At about ten o’clock I went into the kitchen for some water and saw the tell-tale sprint of a shadow across the lawn. Reams of toilet paper hung from the trees and a headless snowman was erected near the drive. I did not see my mother, but I heard my Dad’s chuckle as he said “Mame, get in the car.” Off they all sped. I felt forgiven for not showing up at dinner, happiness for being thought of and love for all of my siblings. The fact that my parents (The leaders of this crazy bunch) participated, was just perfect.

The tradition has now leaked down to nieces and nephews. The youngest culprit to date is my four year old niece, Mary Margaret. I failed to respond to a late night call to join an impromptu party in progress and woke up the next morning to toilet paper surrounding the entire house. I assumed the guilt belonged to the usual suspects. I did not realize that the little ones were involved until my niece Emma spilled the beans. She happened to be present the morning after the raid. I was surprised to look in the backyard and see toilet paper hanging from the trapeze. Emma’s Cheshire smile led me to ask “Did you do this?” She truthfully responded “No Aunt Nan. We did the front.”

We now have three generations of toilet papering. Three generations of people who love to be together, be included and to be loved.