There’s Hope In My Chest!

Published February 5, 2013 by Carmen Lamiarum

My mother received a hope chest when she got married to my father. If you’re unfamiliar with a hope chest, they vary in style, but essentially look like this:

Obviously, that’s not my mom.

You can use them for storing quilts or other family heirlooms. My mom keeps old Mother’s Day cards and progress reports from her kids in hers.

My earliest memory of her hope chest was when she had it in her living room to function as a coffee table. It had some ducks wood burned into the top, and at the time, was covered with a thick sheet of glass. I remember my baby brother trying to teach himself to walk. He was holding onto the edge of it when I guess he lost his footing. managed to push the glass off the top and shatter it, as well as gash his head open on the corner. You might be thinking, “Oh! How ghastly!” (Actually, I doubt you said it like that.) But that’s the kinda stuff babies do, and it never deterred me from wanting one of my own someday.

All growing up, I had mentioned that I wanted a hope chest of my own someday. But even as a child I was under the understanding that a hope chest is the type of girt you have to wait til your wedding day for. So when my own wedding came and went, I was unpleasantly surprised not to receive one of my very own.

Not that I was really mad about it or anything. I knew that both my parents, now divorced, had just remarried not months before I did, and were probably not in the financial standing to pay upwards to $800 for a custom built, Amish-made cedar chest. (Yeah, these are the kind of things you really can’t buy from some factory. Not if you want the chest itself to become an eventual heirloom.) So I made the decision, like with most things in my life, that if I wanted it done, I’d have to provide one myself.

Life has moved on, and I’ve moved on with it. I’ve been married for a couple of years now, and the expense of buying a hope chest has been set aside countless times, in favor of paying the bills or taking a trip to visit family. But today, that has ended. You see, in my post yesterday I didn’t make any mention of finding a beautiful hope chest while we were at an antique shop. I didn’t mention it because I didn’t buy it, and I had no intentions of doing so. I never thought I would buy a hope chest used, and take on it’s potentially bad ju-ju. But after I wrote that post, I got to thinking about it. I don’t know what it was about that chest, but I fell in love with it.

I stayed up way past my bedtime, just thinking about how much I wanted it. Once I fell asleep, I had a dream about it. So when I woke up, I called the store and bought it over the phone. Not to brag, but it was a good $650 below my budget. And I just had such a good feeling about it…I was kicking myself for not buying it yesterday. I had to have it. There’s only one catch:

Someone’s painted it.

I know, I’m picky. Yes, yes. But if you’ve ever been around a decently made hope chest, one thing you notice is the smell. It smells absolutely divine. And paint covers that up. Also, I had always imagine mine to be a natural color, maybe a light colored stain just to make it vibrant, with a wood burned monogram on the lid. A nice intricate letter to represent my the last name I took from my spouse. That’s just how I want mine to look.

But it’s okay, because I have a plan. I’m going to possess the ju-ju of the hope chest, for better or worse, and make it truly mine. I’ll either use a sander or a heat gun to take the paint off. Refinish it myself, and send it off to be burned by a craftsman. I’ll turn it into the chest I want. I’m actually greatly looking forward to the project. Spring is coming soon, and I tend to get myself elbow deep in paint around this time of year. Why not remove some instead of add some? It’ll be a wonderful time, and it’s just the kind of project I like to undertake in my spare time. Plus, it’ll mean more because in a way, I made it myself.

That’s a lot of writing about a big wooden box, isn’t it?

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2 comments on “There’s Hope In My Chest!

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