Do today’s young women know what a Hope Chest is? Are they still a “thing”?
Hope Chests have been around for a long time. Young unmarried girls would collect things to place in their hope chest, things that they hoped to use after they were married. Often a boyfriend or fiance would purchase a cedar chest or blanket chest for his sweetheart as a gift. It was as good as an engagement ring. It was a sign of commitment.
Linens, dishes, clothing, and small family heirlooms were just a few of the items that the hopeful young woman would place in her hope chest.
When I got married in the early 70’s, the hope chest had lost a bit of its charm. The women’s liberation movement was all about changes in attitudes toward women and of women’s attitudes about their futures. No longer was a woman expected to marry and have a family. There were careers out in the world waiting for women to latch on to. I often feel as if I was on the edge of all this happening. I wanted a family and I wanted a career. But I think I would have sacrificed the career if I had to make a choice. I’m sure there are many young women out there who would laugh at this choice now. But we are children of the times in which we live.
I was lucky to have a family and a career. And I did it without a hope chest.
How about you?
I truly respect such choices and pooh at anyone who finds it funny. I have had to sacrifice a career for my young ones and follow my husband on moves to here and there (though I started a business on the side) and if truth be told, I would do it again. There will be time to return to a career if it is really so important but the children will not stay small forever.
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I have not heard of this chest before but the idee where unmarried women keeps stuff that she may hope to have after getting married is quite common. I come from a region where even the mothers of unmarried women would put aside things which she would gift to her daughter on the day she gets married. Don’t think it is being practised much these days but it was a beautiful act.
My mother still had her ‘cedar chest’ when she died. Inside we found many precious things she’d kept, including a box of letters from my Dad to her, most of them written before they were married. She always kept her mink stole and her favourite jewellery in there, too. Nowadays, young people don’t save and plan the way we (and our mothers did); they just buy things they need and use them right away, or hope to get them at showers and for wedding gifts. I loved the idea of a hope chest (even though I didn’t really have one, I did have a collection of things I took with me when I got married).
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Thanks for sharing …what a great idea for a story. You are right about young people…. there are a few that share our love for memories and collections, but most live in the present. Thanks for commenting.