Sara’s Craft Blog

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  • March 2009
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Remember Hope Chests ?

Posted by sara1955 on March 23, 2009

I remember as a teenager receiving a mini hope chest for graduation from one of the hope chest manufacturers. All the graduating girls received them. The little thing is about 1/3 the size of a shoe box. It’s lined with cedar (mmmm!!!). It included a coupon for dollars off the purchase of a full-sized hope chest. I even bought a “good” set of cookware before I moved out on my own. My mother taught us to be prepared.

I’m not sure today’s teens know what a hope chest is. I’m going to rant briefly. It seems we have a few “good” kids and MANY not-so-good kids out there.  I know (this is fact) that many teen girls today want a baby.  They want a baby of their own.  Some of these girls might be the oldest daughter or child in a family and may be left baby-sitting her younger brothers and sisters.  She may want a child of her own so that she doesn’t have to baby sit any more.  Some may want a baby to have something “of their own.”  I’ve heard statements from teens of this fact.  It’s unfortunate that many have sex to start having “their own” family, some girls are younger that 13.  I know of many girls (yes, many) that are 13 and giving birth.  So, my rant is over …

I hope changing a focus for girls (and boys) today might help.

Let’s talk HOPE CHESTS! What is a hope chest, besides a wood box lined (usually) with cedar? It’s a box that girls put their newly made linens, laces, and other goodies waiting to set up their own household. Now you’ll notice I said household, not preparing to marry. Who says we have to marry to leave our parents’ homes? Who says one must be a girl to have a hope chest? I say each and every kiddo out there needs a hope chest. How will we fill it?

Hope chests should be filled with items needed in a new home, whether the home is an apartment or a house, shared with someone else or to be lived in alone. Let’s remember how expensive it is to set up a home with items we take for granted every day. Towels, wash cloths, sheets, pillows, sauce pans, skillets, microwaves, refrigerators, mops, brooms, vacuums, dust cloths, and a whole plethora of other items …. Paper towels, toilet paper, glass cleaner, dish soap, automatic dish soap, laundry soap, etc., etc., etc. Below are a few suggestions of mine to help fill the chest:

Towels: bath, hand, kitchen
Wash cloths: bath and kitchen
Sheets, pillows, blankets
Shelf liners!!!
Sewing kit/Mending kit
Pattern books (never ever, ever go unprepared for needlework)
Pot holders/ hot pot pads
Pretty new nighties (okay, we need those! We do!!!)

Girls and boys should learn how to sew a button on, repair a tear in clothing, knit or crochet an afghan. These are every day skills that come in awfully handy. They need to learn how to do laundry, including how to separate laundry (ugh! Pink underwear for boys hehehe). They need to know how to wash dishes, not only how to load a dishwasher. Learning the basics makes each and every one of us prepared for tomorrow. We may, or may not, be in a position to hire someone to do these mundane chores … but if we have to do them ourselves, we need to know how to do it!!

So, to make things for the hope chests, I’d like to hear YOUR suggestions. Do you have something that you’d like instructions to make? I’d love to see your comments.

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9 Responses to “Remember Hope Chests ?”

  1. Wendi said

    I think those are great ideas!! I also got a mini hope chest for graduation from a company and put senoir year memories in it. I didn’t have an official BIG hope chest, but began picking little things up here and there in high school-dishes, pot holders, etc. I already knew the household chores, so didn’t need much preperation. 😀

  2. digipicsphotography said

    When I got married my sister-in-law gave me a laundry basket filled with canned good, spices, laundry detergent, kitchen gadgets, etc…the little things that can add up in $ when you are just starting out.

  3. Jami said

    One thing that we do for our kids every Christmas is to give them a storage tote FULL of aluminum foil, paper towels, toilet paper, snacks, popcorn for the microwave, nail clippers, toothbrushes, tooth picks, batteries, flashlights, dish sop and towels, bath soap, laundry soap, toothpaste, shampoo…you get the picture. All the little things that cost a bundle when you go to buy them. We start picking up some items in the summer and finish up with food stuff in December. Everything is wrapped (I know way dumb, but it makes it fun to open!) I sometimes think that they enjoy that dumb little box more than the “real” Christmas gifts. Our biggest rule is that we try to not spend more than $1 on most items (some you can’t help but spend more) so we shop a lot at Dollar General or Dollar Tree to fill those boxes up.
    I had just about everything in my hope chest when I got married…silverware, dishes, pots and pans, towels, throw rugs, sheets etc. I don’t know how kids that are leaving the nest today can afford to fill a house or apartment without having one that they have been filling up through the high school years.
    I always loved the embroidered dishtowels or knitted or crocheted dish cloths. I still use those today. I’m in the process of knitting a bunch of new dish coths…mine are wearing out. (I NEVER could crochet!!! Maybe a couple of EASY 🙂 lessons on that!)

  4. Lisa Zielinski said

    I couldn’t agree more with you about children today. In fact, I felt so strongly about it that I opened my own faith-based daycare hoping that I could make a difference in at least a few children’s lives. This was a far cry from my corporate life. I am a mother myself, but I see so many children that need to be needed.
    As for the hope chest, I wish I had started one and I will insist that both my daughters do. I have the most amazing Mother, but this was not a custom in her country. I actually asked her the other day if she would help me add to my fine linen collection. I truly believe if we make an attempt to return to a time when preparing for our adult lives and creating a beautiful home with our hands and not our wallets is our goal, we might be able to bring some peace to our lives in this uncertain time.
    Thank you for your thoughts. They are shared.

  5. GypsyGirl said

    Oh my! Two quite controversial, though different, topics in one. Children today? I would tend to say most all of them are in for a rude awakening when they do find themselves out in the world, as it were. I have a theory, but that’s all it is. Think of where today’s teenagers come from…and I think of myself as a guilty one. Today’s teenagers are the offspring of my generation’s first-borns. My generation? The Hippie Generation…who shunned conventionalism, “made love not war” (thus giving birth to those who are now becoming parents of today’s children). We were a generation of anti-establishment. For the most part, I believe my generation was not going to bring our children up the way we were brought up, those who were brought up in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I was very lucky when I was growing up. Both sides of my family were wealthy and we had just about every comfort available during those times. I belonged to the usual groups popular then; and when in high school, went to every conceivable formal dance that came along. Remember Cotillions? Kids today have never heard of a “cotillion”. A lot of high schoolers do not even attend their prom.

    The “hippie generation”, as I see it, were bent on bringing their children up to be free of all the restrictions we had to endure during the 50’s and 60’s. We gave them choices that we did not have. We “taught” them in a different way than we were taught. We had “chores”…they “contributed to the running of a smooth household”. We worded it differently to make them feel more like a part of the family, rather than feeling like they were “working”. We made it enjoyable for them.

    Now, conversely, the “hippie parents” were not going to “give” their kids every new kind of gadget that came on the market. We were a “back to nature” generation also, who provided our kids with the basics…stories in song and dance, toys of wood and paper, wood building blocks. And then Fisher Price came out with all these “educational” toys, then came Montessori and Sesame Street, and it seemed like we were raising a generation of brilliant kids! Too brilliant, maybe…

    These kids have now grown up with their own ideas of parenting, and they now want to deviate a bit from the way they were brought up and want to give their children everything and anything they possibly can. As a result, both parents have to work. The kids may have all the latest technologically advanced “toys” in computer games and the like, but they are spending very little family time together. From the time a child is six months old or so, because both parents have to work, he or she is sent off to day care, then nursery school, then pre-kindergarten, then pre-school, then after-school programs which are all convenient to the parents’ work schedule. Amid all this scheduling of extras, the fundamental basics, as my generation knew them at that age, are lost or gone totally. Clean, crisp, white sheets fresh off the clothesline to sleep on…probably not many kids today know that wonderful feeling. I think I’m the only one in my neighborhood who hangs clothes outside on an old-fashioned clothesline strung between the house and the garage.

    Now, I have three grown children, and one teenager. Ages: Female 37; Male 33; Male 30; Female 17. The oldest pretty much carried on the way her father (my husband) and I did when we were in high school. She couldn’t wait for the prom. However, she only went to the one, her senior year. She was involved in school sports, the literary aspect and publishing of her yearbook, and taught Vacation Bible School, though we were not necessarily a very religious family, again, as both my husband and I were brought up, he Catholic and me Unitarian Universalist. We, as “hippie parents”, did not push religion on our kids. We let them decide for themselves when they became old enough. Bad mistake. The boys don’t miss it; the oldest daughter questioned us recently, actually, why we did not offer them all a formal religious education. *shrugs* She totally accepted our two completely different replies. She attended different religious ceremonies/services and made her own choice: Unitarian Universalist. The youngest daughter couldn’t care less. She, along with, I’ve noticed, a lot of her friends, rather shun religion as a whole and “God” in particular.

    But back to these kids today being unaware…They are, I’ve also noticed, a very “Me” generation…they seem to want to have everything, they are rude, disrespectful, messy, generally socially unacceptable…in fact, social piranhas in some cases…their language and mode of dress would curl my grandmother’s hair four times over! Not many of them are interesting in holding part-time jobs after school. Their main interest seems to lie with “chilling” with their friends, which is fine…but I believe it just breeds egos and as a result, they become more “me” oriented.

    Now, as for the Hope Chest…yes, I had one. Mother would add to it periodically during my college years. My grandmother “cleaned house” and added many many hand-made/crochet-trimmed items to it that belonged to her mother or grandmother. I was taken to the local and only exclusive jewelry establishment in town and chose my “patterns” of silver, crystal and china, which were also added to my hope chest on holidays or simply periodically. By the time I took up housekeeping in 1967, my husband and I had just about everything we needed to start out.

    By contrast, when the three older children struck out on their own, my husband and I provided for them on an “as-needed” basis, rather than make up Hope Chests for each of them. But I totally like the idea of working on even simple things for our kids today…like my 17-year-old. Every holiday, as a sort of “extra gift”, I should crochet and tat edgings for sheet sets for them all. One can always use sheet sets. Towels, yes, edgings for towels. And crochet potholders. Anything hand-made…something you learned from your mother or grandmother. Getting back to the basics. I’m all for that.

    I liked your post. Let’s hope we can all contribute to bringing a little vintage back into our and our children’s lives. Blessings to all of you.

  6. Marie said

    I remember those mini hope chests…they were made by Lane, and I wanted one in the worst way but never did get one. Never got the large one either but my mother gave me some bath towels and a few other goodies after I got engaged, so I guess I had a hope chest in theory anyway.

    I’m afraid I’m not a fan of kids today (and I’m not really old). They all act like they’re 40 years old and think they’re far more intelligent and wiser than their elders. I won’t say what it is that I think they need, but their parents should have given it to them a long time ago. Instead they gave them a cell phone to glue to each ear and told them they were better than everyone else in the world. Sheesh, no wonder we’re in trouble now.

  7. Smiles said

    Well, here I probably am one of those punk kids you’re talking about, GypsyGirl, but I just love my hope chest. I’m turning 18 soon, and my grandmother decided to give me a cedar chest that belonged to my great-great-grandmother, as long as I can fix the hinges. I’m thrilled! The cedar smells wonderful, and I finally have a place to put my bakeware and linens and sewing items.
    But it surprises me that hardly anyone my age knows what they are. I mentioned my hope chest to my friends and none of them even knew what a hope chest was! I know I can’t really talk about “kids these days” because, well, I am one, but still… (:

  8. Midge said

    When my grandfather passed away, my mother wanted to get ‘something’ for my brother and me to remember him by, so with $$ she inherited from him my brother and his wife got a curio cabinet and I got my “Hope Chest”. Although I would say that I HOPED I didn’t have to use it, I did add to it every now and again. (I also ‘inherited’ many things from my grandparents and my dad’s aunt– things nobody else needed as they had their households set up and I was still living at home. But when I did get married, I had an awful lot of things that I didn’t need to go out and buy. (I still have several things that I use a lot!!).
    I now have a son, 20, who is attending college. I decided to start a “Hope Chest” of sorts for him. I wil pick up gadgets, a crock pot, pyrex ware, etc. Last year I decided that he should start cooking at least 1 meal a week, so that he will know his way around the kitchen when the time comes. Every time he makes something, I put the recipe in a file for him on my computer. I print them out, put them in sheet protectors, and in a binder so that he will have his very own ‘cook book’- some of his absolute favorites. (I also make sure that he will have the pan to make it in)
    I know that when you have to stock your first house or apartment it will be big $$$, so if I buy dishes, or gadgets or whatever now, it will be a LOT less later.
    I figure it’s the least I can do– I only have 1 child, and I thank God for him everyday.
    After being married for almost 10 years, God gave us our son. He never let us have another child, so I got the message “be happy with the 1 child I gave you”, and we are.
    He attended Catholic school from Kindergarten all the way through High School. He goes to Mass every Sunday, (in fact when he was about 12-14 he reminded us that when we were at camp for a few weekends in a row one summer, that we haven’t attended Mass for awhile. I was kind of in awe, afterall, I am the adult and should be telling him to go to Mass!!) He attended Catholic youth rallies in St. Paul Minn. for a couple years and last year he even baked cookies for the kids that went! Whikle at college, he continunes to attend Mass every weekend. I think we did pretty good raising him!!

  9. Jackie said

    I was given lots of jars filled with soup bases, bean soups, muffin mixes. It was a great help starting out and much fun.

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