Today I’m doing a personal post about something that means a lot to me and one I am passionate about, it’s a post that has been in the making for years without me even knowing it.
When I was just a little thing, in 1996, hurricane Fran ripped through North Carolina and did a lot of damage in many places. My family’s farm, Seven Oaks Farm, was one of the places that had a hard hit.
Our farm was named Seven Oaks Farm because – you guessed it – seven giant oak trees that pre-date my family coming over from Germany were located on our farm. However, when Fran came through it took all down but just three of the giant oaks.
After the storm, the question was how to preserve the historic oaks that had fallen. Thus, my parents came up with an amazing idea.
The idea they had come up with was to take some of the wood from a couple of the oak trees and make it a hope chest for me, and give it as a gift on my 18th birthday!
I know that to some people this may not be a big deal but it was (and still is) to me but the fact that my hope chest came from historic trees that helped name our farm and then it’s symbolism, on my 18th birthday, means a lot to me.
Now, of course, the making of the actual chest started a few years before my 18th birthday and was finished just before. While I knew since I was a young teenager that this special gift would be given on my 18th birthday, I did not know it’s design and didn’t know how it would look at all!
That added to the excitement tremendously and I was very very excited for this birthday because of this. I knew that it would be lined with local cedar and would have an engraved plaque, but that is all.
When the big day came, I can honestly say that at that time in my life, it was one of the best I had experienced.
About a year before my birthday I started to really learn about the history of these iconic chests and little details about them, and that’s when I really began to appreciate the history of them.
When the sheet that covered my hope chest was lifted, it took my breath away. It was beautiful and simplistic, with gorgeous little touches here and there. The cedar smelled wonderful and the plaque on the inside was so sweet.
My cousin Buck is the one that crafted the pieces of iconic wood into the beautiful little chest, and although he was not present, I thanked him graciously for his craftsmanship later.
The chest now sits in the master bedroom and the end of the bed, it fits so perfectly and both an image and feeling I wish every woman could experience!
Looking back now all those years ago when I was first told about the special gift I would be given on my 18th birthday, I still remember all the thoughts I had – who would I marry, what would our house look like, what would life be like.
And now actually living in the time I once had so many questions about, I smile contentedly thinking how truly amazing and beautiful life is!
Through the years I stowed precious little things away in my hope chest and soon I may write a post on a couple tips of what (and what not) to put in your own hope chest.
I mostly stored linens and crystal in the beginning and then some special quilts and also things that I had embroidered or hand crocheted in mine.
Today, my hope chest is still used. I store special things that belong to Samuel and I in it as well as handmade items and heirlooms.
On top, there is usually a folded blanket in case we need it at night as well as a photobook that holds pictures from our wedding and a few Boyds bears that are special to me. It’s a nice piece in our room that is very treasured.
Right now, I have a cozy blanket and some simple fall decor on top just to bring a little bit of the season into our room!
While I believe that everyone has a couple of really special material possessions in this life, I would say mine would be my wedding ring and band and my hope chest. Each mark special times in my life and are unique.
You might be thinking that hope chests and their tradition are a thing of the past, but if you ask around I can guarantee you that this tradition is still very alive and well! It now takes on many forms – from the college-bound kid with a blue or pink trunk to the young adult storing their precious items away in an old trunk found at the local antique store – this tradition is still found and practiced.
What about you – do you or someone in your family have stories of a hope chest, or maybe someone you know? Sometimes it can be so amazing to hear stories of things like this and then just stand in wonder.
Comment below with questions or comments about this post!
XOXO – Autumn Renae