Tuesday, March 26, 2013


This afternoon I was trolling SOL blogs and I ran across a treasure that reminded me of a treasure in my life.  It is funny how reading other blogger’s words take you to a slice of your own time.  Today just that happened to me.  Angela, a fellow blogger, is celebrating her 5th year of Writing Studio and she is celebrating by offering daily book give aways this week.  She is doing some really wonderful writing work with students.  Go to her site and be in for a treat!  http://www.wnyyws.org/blog/2013/03/solsc-2531-birthday-presents/comment-page-1/#comment-1662.  You won’t be disappointed.  

The treasures of her site, pictures of boxes filled with stories and what looks to me like writing materials, brought me to a well-loved memory…

My children were born in September—both of them.  Three years and nine days apart.  Both, at the moment of our first contact, were my most precious of gifts…treasures that continue to unfold to this day.  Their entering into our family changed my life forever.  A completeness occurred when each of them joined our family that is beyond words to me.  Their father and I decided to commemorate this very special family moment by creating a treasure box—a time capsule.  We painstakingly planned and built their box contents.  Newspapers from the day they were born.  The Time Magazine from the year they were born.  For a year, between when they were born and when we celebrated their first birthday, items went into their box.  A christening candle. A lock of baby curls.  An audio of music from the year.  A calendar where I documented their first of everything.  Photos.  Slowly the box built up into a treasure trove of memories.

As their first birthday approached, and we planned our family gathering to celebrate, another addition to their boxes unfolded.  I sent out a letter to friends and family members, asking them to write a letter to the soon-to-be one-year-old.  A letter given to a little girl or a little boy at one that would be placed in their treasure box to be opened when the child turned 18.  Some embraced the idea.  Some balked saying, “What would I write to a one year old?”

I gave ideas.  Write about something from your past.  Tell them your favorite joke.  Tell them your dreams and hopes for them.  Tell them where you want to be eighteen years later as they open their box.  Write a message to them that you want to remember or want them to know.  Letters were written—all as different as the people who wrote them—some written with distress because the words did not come easy and others flowed from an easy space, delivering a message for later.  Sealed letters began to arrive a week before their birthdays—letters from long distance and letters from neighbors, letters from close friends and letters from relatives—all given and put into a treasure box time capsule to be opened when the baby became an adult.

Eighteen years passed.  The boxes were not mentioned.   They lived in the silence of a cedar chest, waiting to reveal the words written.  Neither child knew about the existence of the boxes until we opened the first box when the oldest child turned 18.  On the week of each of their 18th birthdays, the box was pulled out of the cedar chest and given to the child turned young adult. 

Contents spilled from the box—mementos and letters alike, painting a kaleidoscope of hopes and dreams, casting brush strokes of a love collage and of memories to pass on—memories commemorating a year long passed that hoped for a bright and happy future.   A gift was given that overwhelmed each child momentarily as they went from letter to letter on an 18th birthday.  Letters, with words of hope and love poured out of the box.  Letters from my dad and a very special aunt and uncle who had passed during the time between, letters from a best friend, grandparents, cousins, young and old, godparents and friends—each honored with words, a child of one and an adult on an eighteenth birthday.  Each shared their slice of life chosen to be revealed at that later time.   A treasure, a kaleidoscope of love, was received that became a gift that anchored the receiver as they moved from childhood into adulthood.  


  1. This just made me cry - it was so precious and sweet! I wish I'd done that for mine, but so happy you had the forethought to do it. Perhaps my daughter would like to do this for our grandson who will be 2 this summer. It is never too late, right? Just do it...even if it's just from his grandparents!

  2. How wonderful this is. I don't think it would be too late to start it with grandchildren already in his 8th year. It also gave me an idea for an older person from family members. Thank you for all the ideas!

  3. Oh, Deb. What an incredible gift you gave your children...and us..by sharing this. Your story gave me chills. And thank you for mentioning me here. This made me smile at the end of long day.

  4. This is such a cool idea and such an exciting way to celebrate their birthdays. I wonder if we could do this for my grand daughter on her second birthday...maybe it is never too late. xo

  5. WOW what a wonderful idea. I wish I had done that!

  6. A beautiful idea, Deb. I can't imagine how wonderful your own children think the boxes were. I think I will present it to my own children, for their chlldren. When I taught, I had my 8th graders who left write letters to themselves for their high school graduation. I mail them in May of their graduation year. It's a future connection I like to keep, & I've heard enough back that I know they love seeing some strange envelope 4 years later with their handwriting. Thank you for describing the treasure boxes so carefully.