My seven-year-old daughter loves little boxes. She saves them and keeps them on her shelf of special things. In one (which she chose as her souvenir in a gift shop on a family vacation four years ago and she still has it!), she keeps a collection of tiny household miniatures curated from various doll house sets. In another are special ribbons, rolled up and fitted just so. She was telling me about her boxes over lunch one afternoon, and I remembered a little box my Mom had given me years ago. It’s wooden and imported from Poland, and if memory serves, ended up in my stocking one Christmas morning.
I told my daughter about it, and right away she was entranced. If it came from Grandma, she knew it had to be good. Grandma is an acknowledged authority on tiny treasures. As but one example, it was Grandma who knit small, matching yarn purses for both of my daughters that, when opened, fold into miniature baby beds, complete with tiny baby dolls in little, hand-sewn nighties.
“Did the box come from Grandma’s sewing room?” my daughter asked.
“Originally, it came from Poland,” I told her. Which she thought was neat, since that meant it was from Europe, and my daughter loves all things “European,” and because we’re Polish. But still, I noticed a slight let down. Europe may be dreamy, but it’s not quite as eye-widening and wonder-inducing as Grandma’s sewing room.
In a contest between Old World kingdoms and Grandma’s cozy corner of creative craftdom, the marvels of Grandma’s sewing room will win out every time. And no wonder. Grandma’s sewing room is straight out of a story book. Fascinating possibilities abound everywhere, in stacks of material and yarn and buttons and bows and thimbles and wooden dowels and leather strips and doodads of every kind and description. To a young soul with an imaginative and crafty bent, it’s hard to top a snowy day of dreaming and doing in Grandma’s sewing room.
Seeing the disappointment, I hastily added: “But I think Grandma did keep the box hidden in her sewing room before Christmas Day, so I guess, in a way, it did come from her sewing room—by way of Poland.” This was good enough for my daughter. When you’re seeking an excuse, any flimsy straw will do.
“I think I saw it recently,” I told her, “if I can just remember where . . .”
With all the moving we’ve done over the last seven years, things have gotten a little jumbled. I didn’t know quite where that little Polish box was anymore, but I did remember seeing it not too long ago.
“Should we try to find it?” I asked.
“Yes!” was the enthusiastic answer.
So we started sorting through old, yet-to-be-unpacked moving boxes (some that have been waiting through more than one move for their chance to be unpacked).
My room—no luck.
But finally, on the third box in the utility closet . . . Eureka!
“Here it is!” I said, holding up the box and handing it over for inspection.
My daughter loved it, turning it over in her hands and running her fingers over the carving on the lid.
She opened it, and it was empty.
“You can have it,” I told her. I figured something special like a Christmas gift hand-carved and imported from Poland was meant for more than sitting empty in an old, half-forgotten moving box.
My daughter hugged it and said, “I know just what I’ll do with it. I’ll keep my hopes in it. Thanks, Dad.”
Then her two-year-old brother ran up and grabbed it out of her hands, turned it upside down and shook it, and when nothing came out, put it back in her hands and ran off again.
I have no idea what he was trying to shake out of it. Probably Cheetos.
I had just barely got out a “David!” in my stern father voice when Davey was already gone.
“That’s OK,” my daughter said, “hopes don’t fly away.”
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All the stern drained right out of me.
My daughter may have gotten the treasure box, but it was me who got the treasure.
And its timing was perfect. Embarking on the start of a new year is a great opportunity for making a rededication to the adventure of life, to joy, and to hope. This is a time to remember our hopes, to call them to mind, hold on to them, store them up and treasure them. Even when the world tries to shake them out of us, our hopes won’t fly away. Keep your hope, and your hope will keep you.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom 15, 13.
Happy New Year!
Copyright 2017 Jake Frost
About the Author
Jake Frost is an attorney, husband, and father of four grade-school aged kids. He’s the author of five books: Catholic Dad: (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; Catholic Dad 2: More (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; From Dust to Stars: Poems by Jake Frost; Victory! Poems by Jake Frost; and a children’s book he also illustrated called The Happy Jar.