My Grandma’s cedar chest sat underneath her bedroom window. On hot summer days I would sit on top to catch a cool breeze while reading a Nancy Drew book. The contents were a mystery my inquiring mind always wanted to solve. On occasion Grandma would unlock the chest and share with me beautiful pillowcases she cross-stitched, simple tablecloths, and even baby booties from a child lost.
Grandma called it a cedar chest, some say hope chest. Young women in Australia call it their glory box. By whatever name, the purpose is the same–to hold homemaking essentials for young women heading to college or marriage.
In our strained economic times, a new generation of young women will find a hope chest a tremendous blessing. I did not have a hope chest when I married, although years before my mother-in-love began purchasing pieces to a silverware set for her son. His grandmother also gave us a quilt she made. Those forks, spoons, and knives are still in use 23 years and four kids later (though some are now missing).
Typically the chest is filled over the years with handmade quilts, linens, and kitchen items a young woman and her family have made. Carrying on my mother-in-love’s tradition, my sons will have a chest of silverware along with special mementos to present to their bride one day.
All my children will receive:
*Books on marriage, finance, and father/motherhood along with copies of favorite family cookbooks.
*Scrapbooks filled with childhood memories.
*Christmas ornaments collected and made by their hands.
In addition, I have saved special baby treasures for when they welcome their first child. If I get my act together each will receive a handmade quilt for their high school graduation present as my Great-Grandmother did for me. A high school friend, Debra, says she has purchased classic cookware pieces such as cast iron skillets at yard sales for her daughters’ hope chests. Every Southern cook knows the value of a well-seasoned iron skillet!
Lane Furniture is well known for beautiful hope chests. If you enjoy DIY, online sources provide plans to build one. My sons do not have a hope chest in the traditional sense, instead it is a small plastic container.
Grandma always promised me her cedar chest when I grew up. Today it sits at the back of my closet holding blankets and linens. My children ask what special treasure it holds, just as I did years ago. Preparing now for my daughter’s future or gathering special items for my sons, I realize the relevance of a hope chest is just as powerful today.
Did you have a hope chest as a young woman and are you compiling one now for your children? What do you consider essential items?