Article #15. Hope Chest

When my childhood best friend turned sweet seventeen, her parents threw a quinceanera: a traditional Spanish celebration which elegantly marks the passage from girlhood into womanhood. On this very special occasion, the birthday chica dons a ball gown… there would be waltzing, maids of honor attending her, and a beautiful cake.  (It could easily remind you of a Spanish wedding, simply without a groom!)

I remember the way my eyes dazzled at the present Abbie was given.  Her parents brought in a beautiful oak chest which they had thoughtfully filled with things for her future home.  A “Hope Chest.”

And ever since, I was absolutely enchanted with that idea.

When a friend sold her vintage steamer trunk at a yard sale one summer, I picked it up and knew exactly what to do with it. Like a pirate’s treasure chest, I slowly filled it with all sorts of booty.  By the time I was ready to move into my very own space with Austin, it was quite the cache – teeming so bountifully with treasures that I had to fit the items like a puzzle for the lid to latch.

Would you care to peek inside?  I tried to accumulate unique things… things I wouldn’t likely receive as house warming presents or add to my wedding gift registry one day.  So from memory, there was a small chocolate fountain, a set of Wilton icing-tips, favorite cookbooks, timeless lingerie, pink tools, LACE (the perfume I wanted to save for my wedding day), a waffle maker (I love Belgian waffles! and pulled this one out frequently before I ever moved out of my parents’ house), a panini grill, a collection of letters and prayers for my future husband, and various home supplies and decor I admired before I ever had the space to use them.  I’m sure I’m forgetting several items, but here you have the gist of it.

I know others who filled their trunks a little differently.  Some stored up hand-made treasures such as embroidered pillow cases and knitted throw blankets. I’ve even heard of girls stashing special fabrics or lace to one day incorporate into their wedding gown… such as snippets from their mother’s or grandmother’s dress.  Heirlooms such as fine China are also a popular article to stow away.

And this could seem like the silliest idea, but it was such girly fun as a young woman: I once organized a hope chest “shower,” or party, where I gathered a handful of girls whom I knew kept hope chests.  A few of them were even horse-and-buggy Mennonites.  We all exchanged names secret-sister style and purchased a nice gift for their trunk.  I still remember the water infuser and glass Princess House container Marilyn gave me, and I do use them!

Now that I am married and settled into a cozy little one-bedroom apartment with my man, I still prize my steamer-trunk.  What once sat at the end of my bed growing up now makes the chic-est coffee table in our main living space.

Now, as I joke with everyone who knows how sentimental my hope chest is to me, it seems to fill back up with baby things. 😉

Did you or someone close to you keep a hope chest?  What was your favorite thing in there?

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