Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hope Chest

Who remembers the term "hope chest" these days? We of the middle age and older generations do, but somewhere along the passing of time, I believe the idea has gone by way of the dowery.

When I was a teenager in the 1960's, my mother and aunts began giving me household items for my 'hope chest.' I didn't really have a chest, per se. in which to store these things, though I'm sure some girls did. The contents of a hope chest were to prepare the young woman for an eventual home of her own. Gifts would come for my 'despair barrel' as one of my aunts deemed it, and would be stored in my closet for the 'someday' when I'd need it.

I like the custom, though, I'm not sure I did at the time. I always had the idea that I'd be a wife and eventually a mother, but at the age of fifteen and sixteen, I thought I had plenty of time, and household items were not particularly exciting. However, when at the (too young) age of nineteen, I married a high school boyfriend, those towels and dishes, sheets, etc. came in handy.

When my daughters were teenagers, I gave each of them a cedar chest. There were gifts, here and there, of articles that they could save for their future homes, but things had changed by that time. Kids were more interested in 'registering' for the specific small appliances or dishware or linens. Registering is common practice today, but it irks me. When a gal gets engaged and sets a date, she runs to her favorite department store and picks out everything she'd like to receive, and then lets all the gift buyers know where they can choose one of those items to bestow upon her and her intended. I suppose, for some, this makes it convenient because one doesn't have to think much about what the gift will be. They need only to decide what they want to spend and pick something from the list which lines up with their budget. It also is insurance that the bride will like and use your gift, since she's picked it herself.

I've never been ''registered'' for gifts, nor have I purchased anything from a registry list. I like the challenge of shopping for useful gifts that I think would suit the one receiving it. I might sneak a peek at a list, just to see what a bride's china pattern is, or to get an idea of her color preferences, but the gift is all my own idea.

Some of the old ways still charm me more than today's practices. I think I'm getting old, and I know I'm old-fashioned. I can think of a hope chest full of ancient traditions that I'd trade for methods of this day and age. Life moves on, times change, but sometimes I wish things could be a little more like they were in the days when I was young.


  1. I still have a mini-hope chest that I got at Diamond's - free with the ad they put in the Bonac Beachcomber every year - remember those?

  2. I do remember those! I don't remember having one of them, however. I wish I did!

  3. A local jewelery store gave miniature hope chests to the graduating gals back in 1944 when my Mom graduated. We still have it. Mom gave all us girls beautiful Lane cedar chests when we graduated, and I got lots of things as gifts the next few years to put in my hope chest. It's still a very favorite piece of furniture to me.

  4. Kath, how neat that you and your sisters have such a gift from your mother. She knew the value of such an item. Your jewelry store sounds like Diamond's, which was a furniture store in our old hometown. Sadly, Diamonds and so many other stores are gone now, so the new grads don't have the opportunity of the small version of the chests.

  5. I had two of those chests from Diamonds. I don't know whatever happened to them but I used them as jewelry boxes for years. I do still have the chest that Aunt Sis gave me on my wedding day but passed on the one that mom gave me when I was a teenager. I wish now that I had kept it but I gave it to someone that needed a hope chest of her own. Oddly after I passed it on to her she actually found the man God had in mind for her. She was in her late 30's at that point and thought she would never marry. I love the idea of a hopechest and cherished the items that were in mine. I have my eyes open for a chest for my daughter... I want her to have the same treasures and opportunities to dream that i had.