It’s 8 bells,
Dad would announce.
Rob and I would run
as fast as we could
to the hope chest
sitting in the living room.  

The long, heavy wooden chest
stretched the length
of our picture window
and came up
to our chests.
We knew
it wouldn’t move.

We clasped our fingers
around the hardware.
We thought that if
we were able to hold on
long enough,
we wouldn’t have to
go to bed.  
It didn’t work.

Mom would quickly tickle us.
Our hands struggled
to hold on.
Eventually,
we would
lose our grip
and be taken off to bed
giggling.

But it didn’t stop us
from trying again
the next night.


you would never know.

When I was a kid,
I didn’t realize
the treasures
that were inside.

To me,
it was just a big piece of
furniture.
A place where
we kept
our fish bowl
and some
picture frames.

The hope chest
now rests
in my parent’s
basement.
It no longer has
such a prominent place
in the house.  

It sits in the furnace room,
usually covered
with newspapers
and flyers
that are used
to start the wood fire.  
Mittens and toques
are often scattered on top.  
You would never know
that it’s filled
with amazing things.



a treasure box.

Dad’s first pencil box.  
Mom’s baby book.
Their high school yearbooks.

Dad’s boy scout sash with badges.
Newspaper clippings of Mom
on the high school curling team.

My first pair of shoes.  
My brother’s drawings.  
Our kindergarten scrapbooks.
My grade 2 writing journals
and the little vest
I wore for school photos
one year.  

Little artefacts
of our family,
tucked away
for safekeeping.

Mom and Dad
saved up to buy the hope chest
before they were married.  
Mom said she used it
to store her prizes
from curling bonspiels.  

Back in the day,
hope chests were meant
to store items
that women would need
when they became wives –   
bedding, tea towels,
and things they made.  
A makers version
of a dowry.  

For our family,
it became a place
to hold our keepsakes.  
My dad is sentimental.  
Mom is too.  
I think Eric and I
are the same way.  
We keep first birthday candles
and pieces of the kids art work.  

It’s a tradition
that will keep going.