Friday, January 28, 2011

A Hope Chest Philosophy

A longing for home is one of the deepest, most fundamental desires of the human soul. For as long as humans have sought shelter, we have also sought to make that shelter more comfortable and even beautiful. In spite of modern rhetoric regarding the role of women, and the pressure exerted by our society to offer our daughters the opportunity to be whatever they might dream of being, hope for a happy, comfortable home is a value that should not be discarded as old-fashioned.

Creating a home that fulfills such a deep, emotional need takes conscious thought and deliberate effort. In the midst of everyday pressures and modern influence, such desire and effort might be postponed or even discarded in favor of other choices. Sadly, if there is a lack of time and a lack of positive commitment to homemaking tasks, there may also be a parallel lack in the emotional comfort of a home. Many, many people simply make do with much less than would be comfortable, let alone pleasant or delightful.

The hope chest represents that deliberate choice to prepare, even ahead of time, a comforting home. It is a physical act that reflects a desire to provide for the future. But, preparing for the future is also a traditional value that has too often been discarded by an immature attitude that believes all good things will come to us as needed. Surely, the wedding guests will provide gifts! Surely, whatever is lacking can be found at the department store, in Grandma’s basement or even the thrift store. This may, indeed, be the case for some young women, but a hope chest is more than the physical items that are stored inside. Beyond the collection of recipes and cookware is the mastery of their use. Behind the careful embroidery on the pillowcases is the recognition that beauty adds cheer and satisfaction to our life. From the woven potholders and knitted dishcloths to the crocheted lace and patchwork quilts, a hope chest simply reveals hands that are trained to do things. And, behind the preparing and collecting is the satisfaction of having what you desire, instead of making do with what is available.

We don’t always know what our future holds. But some kind of home will be part of it. You can make it what you want it to be; what you hope it will be. That is the purpose of a hope chest.


  1. I don't have one, but I want to print this blog post and stick it in my hope chest. Beautifully stated, Kathleen!

  2. What a beautiful essay! Somehow I acquired a bad attitude about trousseaus, despite growing up in a beautiful home and with a mother who excelled in all the home arts. For some reason I thought them hopelessly old-fashioned. But with a daughter almost off to college I am regretting that I haven't taught her more about homemaking. So my second daughter and I are going to start working on a hope chest together, and she is going to make a double set of everything as a surprise for her older sister, who will need this stuff sooner than she knows it, either as a married woman or a working gal. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Jenny in NC

  3. Thank you Paula. You know it is never too late to start one, really. You would just get to use the stuff immediately! How fun would that be?

    Jenny, in my mind I've pictured you younger than your a college-aged daughter would indicate! Your older daughter will surely appreciate such a loving gift from her younger sister! I'm thrilled to have a fellow traveler on the hope chest road. I hope you'll keep coming back for ideas and share what you all do.


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