Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Hope Chest Gift

This is a younger Abigail on Christmas morning with an extra special hope chest gift from her brother. In the coming years, I know absolutely that she will come to treasure the gift more and more.

I'm so pleased that she has an actual place to collect things. I always wanted a cedar chest. In my community, a cedar chest was the traditional gift for girls who graduated from high school, but my parents just couldn't afford one for me. One of the most tender conversations I ever had with my father was on the night of my high school graduation. He came to me and tried explain why I shouldn't expect to receive a cedar chest. Of course I really had only hoped. I actually understood the situation without his explanation, but I have a sweet memory of my father's wish to give me what I wanted, even if it could not be done. And so, as soon as Abigail was reasonably old enough to start learning about a hope chest, I started looking for one. I understand the position my parents were in, cedar chests are really expensive!

Our son Cameron took a woodworking class in college and needed a project. Cameron knew that I wanted a hope chest for Abigail and he offered to make it for her. Of course I was thrilled. My only requirement was that it be made from pine. He took some real hits in the class from his instructor and others who were sure that I wanted cedar in there somewhere and a nicer wood like oak or something. But I knew what I wanted and Abigail wasn't old enough to have an opinion.

So why did I want pine? Because I plan on helping Abigail fill her hope chest completely. I know it will be heavy. When she moves from apartment to apartment in those early married years, I can promise that Abigail's future husband will not want to lift and carry an oak chest filled to the brim with linens and other hope chest paraphernalia! Pine is the lightest wood. I know it is soft and gets dinged and battered more easily, but I like pine, and I think it is sturdy enough. Poor Cameron had to keep explaining to his teacher that he really wasn't just cheap!

I also didn't want cedar in the chest. Cedar isn't actually a great idea for use in a hope chest. It does work to repel bugs in wool fiber, but it also yellows and actually deteriorates fabric over time and it can be lethal to photographs. The scent is very strong. We can add cedar panels in the bottom if we ever want to have cedar, or use loose cedar in sachets. I wanted to have the option of NOT having the negative effects of cedar. Pine is a wood with resins that repel bugs also, it is just not as strong as cedar.

I think Cameron made a wonderful chest. He followed my instructions to a T. It is big enough, but not too big. He put in a nice hinge that holds the lid open. He left it unfinished because I asked him to. This hope chest was as much a gift for me as it was for Abigail and I am so thankful that I have such a thoughtful, talented son.


  1. How sweet!!! It is a beautiful hope chest and Abigail will treasure it all the more as her brother made it. :)

  2. Very nice!
    Hmm, didn't know cedar could damage things - not that it was likely I'd get a cedar chest anyway.
    So are you going to leave it unfinished or finish it later when Abigail is older?
    I wish I had a brother to make my hope chest for me, haha... I'd do it myself if I weren't too lazy to learn how!

  3. Homeschooled, thanks for visiting. I hope you'll keep posting on your hope chest progress. I'm highly interested. I'm planning to leave the chest unfinished until Miss Abigail is older and forms some opinions. This way, she has some input into the way it finally looks. Hah! It is too bad you don't have a brother, but there is still time to change your mind about learning to do it yourself.

  4. A very wonderful story. I am in the process of designing and building a hope chest for my niece. It to will be made out of pine and will leave it up to her on if she wants to paint or stain it. I think your son did an incredible job on it and he should be very proud.


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