Stories from the Past: Part 1

Containers from my Grandmother!

Like me, you may be curious as to how I became so fascinated with containers. Maybe it’s because they are often like treasure chests. Sometimes those treasure chests are ready made, with wonderful things already dwelling inside. In other cases, a wonderful container comes into your life and invites you to fill it with self-selected treasures.

I realized that my history of containers definitely goes back into childhood. And two of my very favorite examples of such containers came to me through my grandmother, both of them as Christmas gifts. I find it particularly interesting because I don’t remember lots of specific gifts from my childhood, but these two made quite an impact.

One year, my grandmother gave my sister and me a shared gift. When we removed the wrapping paper, we saw a simple, but sturdy box with a hinged cover. Happily for us, even though it was the right size, this was not the kind of box that department stores give out as gift boxes for clothes. When we peeked inside, we were delighted by the colorful treasure that awaited us. We discovered construction paper, crayons, and markers in bright colors, along with scissors, a stapler, staples, paper clips, and a roll of tape.

We took it home and spent many hours happily engaged with the contents of our newly acquired treasure chest. And even when it wasn’t all neat and tidy, it was . . . . contained! I don’t remember any disputes with my sister over this treasure chest of creative possibility, but I do remember falling in love with all those colorful supplies. I can’t help wondering if that is why visits to office supply stores still make me smile to this day.

On another Christmas, my sister and I each received identical wooden jewelry boxes. Not only did it hold jewelry and other trinkets, but it was also a music box. When we opened the lid, a tiny plastic ballerina in a pink tutu twirled in circles to the music. In addition to the many compartments available once you lifted the lid, two small drawers on the front of the box provided additional space. For many years, the jewelry box from my grandmother was a home for my small keepsakes.

My current desire to get organized and prioritize my projects is fueled by the memory of how containers hold more than physical items.  They each store something of myself, something essential that I am drawn back to over and over again. Whether I’m sorting through mementos of events already experienced or considering how to combine ideas and materials for a future project, containers may offer a way to sort out the snarls and complications of my crazy schedule and find time to discover the treasures hiding right here in the present moment.

Thanks, Grandma!

COMING UP NEXT: Compartmentalizing vs. Organizing