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Hope Chests
Building A Family Heritage and Preserving A Lifetime of Memories

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by Alyice Edrich

A Hope Chest was originally used as a dowry. It was property that a woman owned and brought into her marriage. Some women could not find a suitable husband, for various factors; therefore, the dowry was used as a way of enticing a man into marriage.

The idea of a Hope Chest symbolizes so many hopes and dreams—to me. It's about seeing the future unfolding before one's very eyes.  It's about preserving a lifetime of memories and building a family legacy—a heritage.

A Hope Chest is really nothing more than a wooden chest, a closet, a storage unit, or a large box full of items that have been collected over time. But inside that object, is something much more special—it's a place where one places all her treasures and dreams, as she waits for life to unfold.

I would like for you (the parent) to close your eyes and think for a moment. What would you like to see your child have as she (or he) leaves your home and enters the world?

Now, imagine your child's reaction when she opens her Hope Chest and begins placing those items—one by one—throughout her new home. Can you see the memories she will have as she reflects on each item and the time the two of your purchased that item? (That's a total "Miracles on 34th Street" feeling.)

Hope Chests also offer a great way to teach your child to start her life debt-free; because a lot of the necessities and/or knick knacks will have already been purchased. Wouldn't it be nice if your child could start collecting some of those things now, so that she does not have to go into debt to acquire those things later?

Just think how less stressful your child's life with be if she could find that perfect apartment and immediately begin to decorate it—to make it feel like home?

There are many ways one can accumulate things for a Hope Chest: Ask family members to share their treasures. Anything that holds a special memory should be accompanied with a story/letter.

Purchase items while on vacation or attend auctions and rummage sales together.

Ask friends and family members to purchase things that your child would one-day want to own in her own home.

As your child begins to work, she can purchase the smaller ticketed items and place them into storage.

You can also save for the larger ticketed items in a special "move out" savings account. The important thing to keep in mind, is that a Hope Chest is much like a treasure chest... to be filled with things one will hold dear for the rest of her life. Each item should symbolize a special moment, place, or time in your child's life, or the life of the giver.

©Alyice Edrich 2003

About the Author:
Alyice Edrich lives in Wisconsin with her two children and husband of 12 years.  She is a freelance writer, web designer, and Editor-in-Chief for The Dabbling - - An Online Magazine for BUSY Parents.

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