Almost everyone has one. A repository for keepsakes. It could be an old cigar box or an ornate wooden chest. An army trunk can be the resting place of valued items from a long military career, or a shoe box full of faded Polaroids from a by gone era.
The traditional "hope chest" or "cedar chest" was used by prospective brides and contained such items as clothing (including a special dress), table linens, towels, bed linens, quilts and occasionally dishware. Things needed to get the marriage off on the right foot. Long before fast food and TV dinners.
My box had belonged to my mother. It is cedar; 18 L x 9 W x 10 H. There is a painted image of Mandarin Chinese on the side . Most of the items are from childhood through the teen years. Baby tooth, marbles, lead soldiers, Boy Scout patches, first driver's license, prom pictures, foreign coins, Mickey Mouse watch, draft registration, letters from my father.
What about the memory boxes of our lives:
The School Box
Crayons. Gum erasers. Sister Mary Eloise. Rapped knuckles. Math. Concrete playground. Best friends forever. Bullies and mean girls. Cafeteria mystery meat. Hating gym class. School play - forgetting lines. Teacher that cared. Falling asleep in history class. Admiring graduation tassel. The real world...
The Work Box
First job: Flipping burgers. Babysitting a little brat. Life guard at a decrepit city pool. All dressed up for a real interview. Healthcare and wage scale package. Cubicle farm. Dress code? Idiot co-worker. Pride in project completion. Mai tais at the annual convention. Pink slip. Networking for a new career. A fresh idea! Trash cans never emptied. Gold plated watch.
The Vacation Box
The tent that wouldn't stay up. Burnt pancakes that never tasted so good. Canadian geese taking off from a mirrored lake. The sound of wind through tall pines. Poison ivy. The warmth of a sleeping bag. Hotel from hell. Hotel from heaven. Lost passport. Finally, a villager that speaks English. Ancient ruins at sunrise. Candlelight dinner in the town's old quarter. Your kids saying they're sick of museums.
The Romance Box
First kiss. Dating. Heart about to burst. Too much perfume/cologne. Brilliant conversation. Saying really stupid stuff. Breakup-makeup. Finally moving on. Finding the one. Making incredible love. First house. Picking out drapes. Life as compromise. Diapers. Teenagers. Where did the years go? Age spots. Last kiss in hospice.
The Spirituality Box
God is dead. God was never alive. God is. The invisible hand. Making sense out of the senseless. Fellowship of believers. Too many questions. Just enough answers. A calming during the dark night of the soul. The true friend. Ribbons of light across eternity.
I have another box. It's made of teak and has carved scenes of Filipino natives. It has small pull out drawers and belonged to my grandfather. It contains swatches from my adult life. Old driver licenses. School pictures of the kids. Social Security cards for me and my wife. Military insignia spanning twenty-eight years of service. Political buttons. ID cards from my teaching career. A photo of my wife when we were first dating. The years ticking away. Go find your box. A touchstone. A life fully lived.