We have a running joke in my house… at my expense. It’s funny because it’s true. It’s also kind of sad because it’s true.
At the end of my senior year of high school, I received a postcard from a local furniture store. Congratulations! Visit our store to receive your free gift! Being the third of four daughters in my family, I already knew what the free gift was. All of the graduating girls received one.
The mini cedar chest was only about nine inches wide and three inches high. Adorable, really. It was Lane’s marketing ploy to encourage parents to purchase a full-size ‘hope chest’ for their daughter. This started back when girls supposedly hoped for a husband after graduation. Nearly forty years later, one of the local furniture shops continued the tradition.
The furniture store closed permanently years ago, but I still have the mini chest. It’s packed away at the moment, but the last time I saw it, I pawed through the contents. An old hand-written note from my first boyfriend. A dried flower from my junior prom. A concert ticket stub from The Cure. A museum pass from my time spent in London. A well-worn map of Edinburgh. A photo of the view out the window of our room in Florence. And a few other little memories.
It’s my hope chest. And it’s tiny. Because it’s directly proportional to my level of hope. Ha!
The boy: Mom, what’s that wooden box?
Me: It’s my hope chest.
The boy: It’s pretty small. What’s inside?
Me: Not much.
And therein lies the joke.
When I first acquired the box, I was a morose, angst-y teenager. And, yes, kind of hopeless. I loved Morrissey and Robert Smith. I don’t think anyone thought of me as happy. I have my moments of near optimism. And moments of great hope. But I remain a relatively melancholy person. [More on this later… try not to let the anticipation drive you mad…]
I’m glad my family (and I) can find joy and laughter in my neuroses. No, I really am. Laughing is good. Even at my own expense. Besides, we all have our thing (or things, such as it is), don’t we? Some are more amusing than others, but still, neuroses just the same.
My 10-year-old son already has a fixation. When a cat hears a can opening, he runs to the source looking for tuna. If I drop a coin, my son comes running to snatch it up and put it in his change-counting bank. The boy has over $250 in that thing. Mom bought me one of those as a joke a few years back. Mine’s got about eleven bucks inside.
But I do have a tiny, tiny hope chest.