Memory Lists and Hope Chests

Do you have the physical traces of your memories gathered together somewhere? 

I do. As you may have noticed by now, I’m a sentimental sort of gal. Recently, I joked that if anyone ever came to my home seeking valuables, they’d walk right past mine. 

My china cabinet is full of the glassware, trinkets, dishes, and the this& that’s of my life. I love seeing them everyday. They bring a hint of the past, into the present. 

It’s kind of funny that in the very same room, sits another object that holds things of similar sentiment. My hope chest. I walk past it at least four times a day and on most days, I never give it a second glance, until this morning. 

The definition according to Wikipedia.org is “a hope chest, also called dowry chest, cedar chest, or glory box is a chest used to collect items such as clothing and household linen, by unmarried young women in anticipation of married life.” 

Though I do have some tea towels my grandma made and a pair of pillowcases I got for my wedding in there, the contents are a bit different than those of the traditional use. 

Have you seen that movie, “The Bridges of Madison County” when Francesca’s children open her chest and it’s filled with letters, books, a locket, and a camera?  That’s more along the lines of what I have in mine.

So, here I sit. The contents spilled out before me. Here is my aqua sweater with the white heart buttons my grandma made me that I wore to my first day of kindergarten. Oh my gosh! There’s all kinds of things in here, including:

Ponchos that my grandma’s made, pajamas from when I was a kid, my cheerleading uniform from high school, a prom dress I wore, a doll mom made me when I was young, flowers that my husband picked for me on an Ozark’s mountainside when we first started dating, letters from my siblings, cards from my grandparents, costume jewelry, items from my wedding, cassette tapes, concert ticket stubs, photographs, nearly every birthday card my parents have ever given me, a front page of the newspaper when the world lost Princess Diana in that awful car accident, a newspaper when St. Louis Cardinals hitter Mark McGuire tied Roger Maris for 61 home runs, a Stevie Nicks album. 

Lots of seemingly ordinary yet beyond extraordinary things. There’s a scrapbook mom made me and tucked way in the back are all the cards she and dad received when I was born! What a gift to read through those again. 

Because of my grandma’s recent passing, they’ve been cleaning out her house. That got me to thinking about the stuff I hold dear and the future of my items. If someone opened my hope chest, they may just see a bunch of junk and toss it. That thought alone inspired an idea I made up of a Memory List.

What’s a Memory List? Its simply a way of sharing the importance of sentimental things. My hope in making one, is to someday keep my stuff out of a dumpster. 

How does it work? I am putting the objects down on a list, writing why they’re in there, where they came from, and what they mean to me. 

For instance I could write:

  • The pearl bracelet in a white box was a wedding gift from my sister and I wore it during my wedding. 
  • The Santa blanket was a gift from my mom.
  • The bag of coins came from my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary party. 
  • The list of boy names were the ones I had picked out for Little Bit two weeks before he was born. 
  • The concert stubs were kept in hopes I would reach my lifetime goal of attending 100 concerts. 

I started this story earlier today and I have put all my treasures back inside. I can’t tell you how great it was to see all that stuff again. So, on this day after Christmas, I feel like I received even more presents because this time, instead of walking by my hope chest like I do countless times each day, I lifted the lid.  

 


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