On my eighteenth birthday, my parents presented me with a beautiful Lane hope chest. It was crafted from the dark wood of a cherry tree and lined with aromatic cedar planks.
Three years earlier when my sister celebrated her eighteenth year of life, she, too, received a hope chest (AKA dowry chest), and my mother immediately began filling it with all sorts of linens and gifts that Audrey might need in her future married life. Weeks before my birthday, Mom and I visited a furniture store in Warner Robins, Georgia and browsed three or four chest designs, so I wasn't surprised when the chest was delivered to our home just a few weeks before I left for college.
That chest has been with me for thirty-one years, although it's been moved, sat on, banged up a bit, and a piece of molding has fallen off and needs to be glued back into position. I keep sacred items in it—old photo albums, heirlooms, and smaller keepsakes. It's a keepsake that houses other keepsakes. I often say to my husband, "If the house catches on fire and you have time, please drag my hope chest out of the house."
So I was enamored with Jennifer Chow's keepsake story about her Chinese camphor trunk. Though I've never met her and don't share her background or life experiences, I instantly understood her bond to the ornate wooden chest that sits in the corner of her room.
Oh, the thought of the things Jennifer's keepsake has seen in its lifetime—the hands that have caressed its intricate carvings, the miles it witnessed as it journeyed from its homeland to America, the items that have filled its interior. Not only does a trunk stores objects, but a trunk stores dozens of memories and thoughts—keeps them safe and preserves them for future generations.
Enjoy, Jennifer's story titled, "The Biggest Keepsake." It won honorable mention in November's keepsake story contest.
Jennifer J. Chow specializes in writing Asian-American fiction with a geriatric twist. Her debut novel, The 228 Legacy (Martin Sisters Publishing) was a Foreword Reviews' Book of the Year Award Finalist. She lives and writes from Torrance, California. Visit Jennifer's website at http://jenniferjchow.com/.
To read more short keepsake stories, consider purchasing a signed copy of Project Keepsake, a collection of fifty-five stories examining why we keep the objects we keep. Click the link on the right. It's on sale with no shipping charges.
What about you? Do you have a keepsake story? I encourage you to share your story with family and friends. Share the origins and histories of your most prized possessions.