The gift was heavy. What could it be? I wondered. I looked at the present sitting in front of my younger sister, Dawn, and me. They looked identical — same size box, same wrapping paper, same big bow on top.
They were from my older sister, Tania, so I knew they were special. But I had no idea just how special until I opened it.
Inside the beautifully hand-crafted chest, which Tania had commissioned, were items that evoked memories as sticky and sweet as marshmallow creme.
To someone outside the family, the items might seem like an eclectic collection of objects. But to Dawn and me, they were priceless treasures that linked us to a past rich in love and steeped in tradition.
An engraved plate on top of the chest said “Treasured Memories.” Tania included this note:
I hope this gift will put a smile on your face, a tear in your eye and a warmth in your heart as you remember our loved ones and those many happy holidays we all spent together.
May we strive to keep the family together for holidays so that our children and their children will know the joy and contentment of being with family.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and love you bunches and bunches.
Your loving sister, Tania
I loved going through the chest and unwrapping each item. The objects took me on a journey to the past, to happier times when loved ones long gone gathered with us to celebrate. Everything in the chest had meaning. Some items, like the red sack of Christmas Coal Bubblegum, I hadn’t had since I was a child. Each year, it was a stocking staple, along with clear toy candy and a Lifesavers Candy Book.
Here’s a sampling of some of the other things I found.
1. Handmade hanging tea towel. Every Christmas, we could count on getting one of these from my grandmother. When she died, we stopped getting the towels. There was no one else in the family who made them.
2. Shiny Brite stencil glass ornaments. Growing up, Shiny Brite glass ornaments adorned our tree. Tania had tucked three beautiful ornaments into the box, each stenciled with a scene or saying, like “Silent Night.”
3. Simmering potpourri. Mom had an electric potpourri simmering pot that she always kept in her kitchen. And at Christmas, she always used Christmas in the Air potpourri from Spice Market. Tania managed to find this potpourri.
4. Photos. Tania had included photographs from Christmases past. I loved looking through the photos, some taken decades ago.
5. Old-fashioned Ribbon Candy. Dad always bought a box of ribbon candy at Christmas. It was a holiday favorite, along with boxes of Wolfgang chocolates. His favorite was Chocolate Covered Raisin Clusters. Do you remember the beautiful Wolfgang Christmas candy boxes? They were always so festive.
The sturdy chest, like our memories, will endure. It will be lovingly passed from one generation to the next. Its legacy will live on, just as our love will live on in the loved ones we leave behind.
How do you put a price on such a gift? I don’t think you can. It is one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever received. And one I will never forget.
Buffy Andrews is Assistant Managing Editor of Features and Niche Publications for the York Daily Record/Sunday News. She’s also its Social Media Coordinator.