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What did you keep in a box?

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By Kimara - Posted on 06 April 2009

As many of you know, Tim and I did not meet until we were in our mid 40s. Besides the obvious… he’d never be able to see the “killer bod” I had at 19… there were so many things we missed. Pregnancies and graduations, job interviews and college parties! So, on a regular basis, I would say, “Tell me something about you I don’t know.” Well, to begin with, it was a no brainer for him. Tim is never at a loss for words, except when he’s asleep. Nope, I take that back. Quite maddeningly, he talks in his sleep, too, but I only get to hear one side of the conversation! “Oh yes. I like that. I like that a lot.” I ask you… are we talking romantic interlude here or has a dream geek just shared a particularly concise line of code, and does the fact that that makes sense to me make me a geek by association? Sorry, not at all relevant to this blog! Anyway, over time, stories of Tim’s childhood and young adult life were shared. Some tales of woe and many of wonder, but as time went on the obvious recollections began to diminish. And because I wouldn’t relent, Tim got smart and started collecting memories to have on hand, so when I asked the inevitable, he was ready with an answer. And then one day, when I said, “Tell me something about you I don’t know”, it happened. His response… “I can’t, I’ve told you everything.”

Obviously, this couldn’t be accurate. So, my questions had to become more precise. “What board games did you play with your siblings?” “What did you do on snow days?” “Tell me about the first time you closed on a house.” See, tons of things I didn’t know yet! The other day I asked, “When you were a kid, what did you keep in a box?” His response, “How do you come up with these questions?”

Well, I thought this was a particularly pertinent question, and that the answer would be quite illuminating. Because, when you are a child, your most treasured possessions are stored in boxes.

Think back to the story of the Littlest Angel. You know the story. The day Jesus is born all the angels in heaven go to pay homage. Gifts are bestowed… impressive, magnificent gifts… gifts fit for a king. The Littlest Angel fretted because he did not have anything worthy of a king BUT then he had a thought. On Earth he had a special box he kept hidden under his bed with his most valuable treasures. Surely, if he only had that, it would be something worthy to give. An understanding grown-up angel heard the Littlest Angel, and made a speedy trip to Earth and returned with the little angel’s box. But when the Littlest Angel opened the box, he was filled with shame. What was he thinking? Here, in this tattered box, were treasures that certainly were not fit for a king. Inside laid a tattered collar from a beloved dog, a robin’s egg, a couple of smooth white stones and a wing from a butterfly. The Littlest Angel tried to hide the box, but to his horror, it was pulled from his hands by an unseen force and placed with the magnificent gifts near the Christ child. The Littlest Angel tried to skulk off, but he was summoned by God himself. Fearing a deserved reprisal, he approached, well aware of all the eyes that looked upon him with sympathy and pity. But, to his amazement, God did not chide him, but rather commended him for his selection of gifts. “This”, God said, “Above all other gifts, is exactly what a child, born of this Earth, will treasure the most.”

“So”, I persisted, “What did you keep in a box.”

As it turns out, and this in no way came as a surprise to me, on Monday mornings, Tim and his best friend traveled the neighborhood going through people’s trash at the curb. Tim was a resourceful lad, always on the lookout for… electronics! Some treasure butterfly wings some treasure transistors… tomato <pronounced toe-may-toe>, tomato <pronounced toe-mah-toe>. (As our son Mike pointed out, pronunciation is lost in the written word!) Anyway… when Tim was young, what he valued most was electronic parts that could be used to make an automatic sling shot or a battery operated space ship. So, although it appeared that Tim’s box was filled with discarded wires and transistors, switches and dials, it was in fact, filled with the things dreams were made of! Isn’t that, after all, what should be inside every child’s treasure box?

And, of course, it must be asked… what did you keep in your box? 

Edit: Tim pointed out that I never mentioned what I kept in a box. I kept the key to diary, a hair that fallen onto the lapel of my grandfather's burial suit, (okay, maybe a little morbid, but I was raised Catholic, and relics, like hairs and bone spliters, were big!) the bi-laws to a secret club I belonged to, and a letter I had gotten from Paul McCartney. (Okay, maybe his secretary, but when I was in 4th grade I assumed it was from Paul himself!)

As I grew up, I continued to have treasure boxes. And then, as a mother, I had a special tin. One day I was showing the contents of the tin to Tim. When I removed the lid, there was a very unusual smell. The contents included the first pair of glasses my pre 1 year old son wore, a hefty braid cut from my daughters hair, someone's retainer, about 30 baby teeth, 1 shriveled ambilical cord, and 1 ear tube.

Me: Yikes. This smells funky. I think this stuff is decaying. What am I going to do. I can't throw this stuff away.

Tim: You don't have to. Just put the top on it and never open it again.

He's so understanding! And so I did just that. I can't bring myself to throw its contents away, although its a rather macabre collection of paraphernalia, but I treasure what each of the items represents. So despite that fact that it needs to remain hermetically sealed, I know its contents marks major events in my children's lives. A pretty priceless treasure!  

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I had a great time reading this. Thanks for sharing this idea here. It's worth the time. - Dennis Wong YOR Health

I just came over from Wee Folk Art. I've never been here before. What an interesting website. I've never been to one quite like this before. I've been jumping around your site and have read 3 or 4 blogs. You really are a very good writer. So witty and wise! I read Children in the Kitchen and Sweater Flambe. I laughed so hard. I can see I have hours ahead of me as I read through your wonderful blog. I'm so glad I found you.

I was just going through some of my old BOXES and it was like an archeological dig. I was searching for one from college that held photos (many - I was a graphic design/photo major), computer disks... actually zip disks (backup of my old graphic design work - but I no longer have a computer with a zip drive to read them and journals of creative writing... short stories and poetry. There was a poem I had written that I was trying to remember and that was the reason for the dig in the first place.

Upon unearthing that box I of course ran across others... one from high school that contained a cassette tape of a guy I knew who would play his guitar in coffee shops. His 'touring' schedule was the basis for many of my high school weekend plans. Again not having a cassette player any more Tim graciously converted the tape to CD. Apparently he was no where near as good as I remembered and this arduous process of insert the song breaks in the CD was painful to my mom and Tim. LOL.

And in the box from middle school... about 300 pins and buttons. I had a jean coat that I covered in buttons... some are real collector items now. Some were even back then... I like to pick them up at antique shops. That coat weighed about 25lbs with all those buttons on it.


I didn't get into the younger stuff. I do know that there is a box residing at my grandmother's house that she asks me about sometimes... if I am ever going to take it home and do I even know what is in it. Nope... but I probably couldn't throw away whatever it is so there it sits.



Ah, this is nice. Alls right in my universe or at least Tuesday mornings! First off, gross! Your body part tin. Hehe. I have to admit I have a similar one. DS has lost 2 teeth, and I've kept them. Also have clips from first haircuts.

I did not have a treasure box. Not sure why. Of course I did have things that were important to me, I just never thought of having a special place to put them. I like the idea though. I think it would be good for the kids to think about valuing possessions and having to discriminate about what really matters to them, although that certtainly could change over time. It would be fun to have them pick out or make special boxes. I'll have to think on this.

Welcome back, Kimara. Missed you. I am hopeful that some of the other people who use to post regularly come back. I'd like to know that everyone was okay. Have a great week and I'LL SEE YOU NEXT WEEK, RIGHT? Hehe!