Friday, February 26, 2010

The Hope Chest: A Legacy of Love

Did anyone have a Hope Chest before they got married? I was fortunate enough to have one that I filled with all kinds of treasures. The great thing about a Hope Chest is that you can personalize it for each child, including their interests and their dreams for their futures.

One of my favorite books is "The Hope Chest: A Legacy of Love" by Rebekah Wilson. I purchased my copy 8-10 years ago from Vision Forum Ministries. In this book, she goes into the details of the history of the hope chest, the whys of having one, the hows to fill one, and the love behind the whole concept. She also stresses the importance of the differences and preferences each family will have for their own children and the hope chests contents. Rebekah shares about her own Hope Chest made by her father and the items she collected before her marriage. She shares the details of what she is including in her own daughters chest and why they are important to them.

Now, a chest doesn't have to be an actual cedar chest that most people associate with the concept (in fact, I am allergic to cedar). It can be a box under the bed, rubbermaid container with lid, closet, dresser drawers, etc. The possibilities are endless. My own was a chest made from pine. It was a Christmas gift from a boy I was dating after I graduated from high school. It was and still is a special possession but its uses have changed over the years.

Amy and Katie both have Hope Chests in their rooms that are rapidly filling. Both have items from their childhoods in them, special baby dolls, blankets, storybooks, ballet outfits etc. They also both have a set of Southern Living Heritage Cookbooks (wonderful books containing the history, menus, etc of food from the south). Katie's set came from her Memphis Grandmother and Amy's set came from her Atlanta Grandmother. I have a set also, that I started collecting when S.L. first came out with the books. I never completed my set, so Greg completed it on ebay for me. They have a S.L. Annual Recipe Book from their birth years (thanks to paperback swap). And they have a recipe book started by me of our favorite family recipes. My recipes are handwritten and the ones we find on the internet are just printed from the computer. (I love handwritten cards by the person you get the recipe from. We have several from my grandmother and they are family treasures) They also like to look through and collect the free recipe cards at the grocery store. They both have a Christmas Tree Skirt that we all made. They are rag quilt style. We each worked on the 3 tree skirts and I embroidered all 3 names on each one. For Christmas every year, they each get a Hope Chest gift. It could be cutesy towels or potholders that I find but usually its tree ornaments that I make for them. We all have a set of hand beaded nativity ornaments that I made. My goal is to have a set of these ornaments made for each of my boys & all my neices and nephews when they marry. They are also including their own cross stitch ornaments and pictures.

I know that when they are nearing the age and time of life to use their hope chest, we will be more earnest in filling them with useful, everyday items. Its fun to dream and think of goodies to put in them. And I pray they will be a blessing to them when they unpack and begin to use each item in their own homes in the future.

Great ideas are found in Rebekah's book with lists for each room of your home. Not all your treasures have to be new. Thrift stores, garage sales and antique shops could help you out. Lots of kitchen stuff can be found at Goodwill or Salvation Army stores, some folks get new dishes, or pots & pans and just donate their older stuff. There is nothing wrong with it, they just didn't want it. Ask grandparents for items they no longer use or want, thats how I got the cookbook sets. Any of these things could bless your children and take the financial strain of these young families setting up their own housekeeping.

These Hope Chest collections aren't just for girls. What about collecting tools, grilling supplies, etc for your sons. What are their interests? A well stocked toolbox would be a great thing to a young man starting his own household. A family recipe book with your sons favorite recipes could be a blessing to his future bride.

I have started a "Grandma's Hope Chest" with goodies for my future grandchildren. There are quite a few smocked Bishop Dresses & jumpers. And, there are baby quilts. I love to smock and sew, so the collecting has started. Most of the dresses have been entered in the state fair before they are carefully put away in my box (rubbermaid chest & lid). Greg teases me about making a little "grandchild" wear the dress and the blue ribbon...that would be a sight! But I will just keep the ribbons and share the dresses! Yes, out of our 7 children, I am counting on at least a couple of grand daughters in the future! If I have boys, Greg said I could smock for them as long as its John Deere fabric and tractor smocking! Bet I could sneak in some fish or something similar also!

Hope Chests are a great concept. A loving way to help your daughter prepare for her future. A fun project to work on together.

And I do still have my own Hope Chest. I guess it is 32 years old now. It holds my antique table linens and serving dishes. Some old story books and VHS tapes from when my children were younger!
Amy's hope chest is pictured first. It is a chest that was in my Mom's basement for years and not being used. I really like the old fashioned curved lid and the metal fittings.

The bottom picture is Katie's hope chest. Greg & I bought it at an unfinished furniture store and he and Katie stained and sealed it.

Both are filled with hopes, dreams, and love for my daughters!


  1. I do have a hope chest too that I got for my birthday when I was in high school. Mom filled it each Christmas with a china tea cup, tupperware, dish towels. I even got and still get a new dish towel every year from and Aunt of mine. I love my hope chest and still have things in there for my own little girl. I love going through my mother's hope chest, it contains her wedding dress-love the cedar smell, an old and beautiful dress of my grandmother's and a few other precious items. Great post Donna, thanks for sharing.

  2. Oh, I love it. I didn't have one, and I wish I had started one for each of my girls. Never too late, I may work on that.

    Delia has a chest identical to Amy's!

  3. I did not have one but was given a set of china, set of silver-plate and 2 antique clocks by my parents. (those felt like hope chest items) I have bought some sentimental rattles for grandchildren I hope to have one day and a cloth nativity for each of the children. (one like my friend gave me and we have had in our home for umpteen years) This is a great idea though. I will definitely gather more items. I like the idea.

  4. Love this. I have one but I got it after I was married. But now I will come up with some stuff for my nieces and nephew.


Welcome to the farm ~ we are a blended family with 7 children (3 are married), 4 grandsons, 5 dogs, 3 rabbits, and 15 chickens living on 3 acres in Georgia. I love crafting, sewing, cooking & canning, recipes of all kinds, reading, playing with my little buddies, family time, travel, pinterest and most of all the Lord.