The Girl in the Cedar Chest

Definitely, I am in deep trouble here.

I’ve gone and opened Pandora’s box and now I’m on my knees and up to my elbows in memories that won’t stay in their tidy little packages. I only need one, thank you. If my elementary school awards and the cards from my wedding would kindly step aside, I could reach over and just pick the photo up.


My mother gifted each of her three daughters with a cedar chest when they turned sweet 16. She still has hers from a million years ago, full of bits of her life.

I’m sure she had no idea that she was entering us in the game of Jumanji when she did.

Or did she?

Traditionally, a ‘hope chest’ is to store treasures in that a young woman prepares for her future wedding and home. Theoretically, once those goals are accomplished, it gets refilled with memories.

I guess that makes me traditional, but if I had hoped in other things, I would be storing didgeridoos instead of doilies and a ceremonial British bearskin instead of baby bonnets.

It’s perfect to store linens in – who does that? – but I pretend that it does, so that I am not sucked into the abyss.

It’s for my own protection.

You know that job I just got? It turns out that the office gals are throwing a potluck this week and the ticket in is to bring a photo of yourself as a kid so that everyone can guess who is who.

Those kidders.

This is what happens when you didn’t go the traditional route and don’t have enough of this nonsense in your home life.

I have baby photos of me, Hubby, and five kids, and they all look exactly alike. I tried putting dates and ages on the backs a few years ago, and it was Russian roulette.

Those mountains of photos will come out one holiday, soon, and I’ll just let everyone decide who they want to be.

Why should I have all the fun?

But I couldn’t figure out where all the photos went. We moved, as you recall, three years ago. All photos made out of paper were carefully boxed up and put in a safe place.

Where ever that is.

In this age of digital everything, they might be with the boxes of items “to scan someday” or they might be in the den behind the college textbooks that Hubby refuses to toss out or they could be in the Harry Potter closet under the stairs where I set things aside for proper aging, like cheese.

Then the drumbeat of the cedar chest called me as I walked past saying, “Here, look in here.”

So I rolled the dice, entered at a college term paper and waded through the perfume bottle swamp, turned right at my great-grandmother’s piggy bank and found stuff from the family tree.


One black and white portrait of a chubby toddler.

It’s me because my mother has carefully said so on the back of it.

Or, it could be one of my sisters, trapped in the game and stuck with my name on them, until someone rolls a 5 or an 8.

Oh look!

The stories I wrote when I was ten, and here’s the savings bond I won with them.

I wonder what it’s worth now?

I should read these, it won’t take a minute…

Comment (1)

  • Barbara Abel| April 26, 2016

    a good read! 🙂

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