What should you put in a hope chest? (1920)

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Woman with blanket for hope chest

What is a hope chest for?

“What shall I put in my hope chest?” asks the girl in a letter. “We had an argument about it last night, any sweetheart and I. He says house linen, towels and things — and I say personal affairs for my trousseau. Which is correct? There are four of us girls all filling hope chests and we want to know what is the proper thing to put into them.”

Woman with blanket for hope chest

Put in linen, my dear, and muslin and soft embroideries.

Put lace in and lingerie and pretty filmy materials. Put the art of needlework in, fine stitches carefully taken, gay colors, gaily embroidered, bright ribbons.

Put in little funny pettiskirts with ruffles on them and every ruffle bound with ribbon, blue ruffles bound with pink, and pink ruffles bound with blue, and green ruffles bound with black, and plain ruffles bound with nothing at all. Put dainty underwear of all kinds into the hope chest, pretty things that you couldn’t afford for every day. Little boudoir caps for breakfast, negligees for days when you aren’t quite up to dressing.

House jackets with flowing sleeves and funny little French peignoirs, all imagination and ribbons.

Home and the hope chest

But first of all, and before all, put right in the bottom of the chest — linens, the best you can afford and some even better than you can afford. Go without the new dress, trim your old hat over and put some of the money into the linen for your hope chest.

Embroider and hem and press and fold this linen with your own hands. Sheets and pillowcases, towels and tablecloths and napkins, plenty of them, and plenty, and then some more.

And when you put them in lay a sprig of lemon verbena or rose geranium leaf, or — if you can’t get that — a bunch of lavender in with the linens. And day by day your chest will fill and fill, and hour by hour your heart will warm and warm, and by the time you have finished with your hope chest, anyone who would try to persuade you to live in a hotel or to board in somebody else’s house, even in that of your own parents, would be no friend of yours.

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Wood hope chest - red brown

With every stitch you take, you write “Home” upon your heart.

“H-o-m-e” spells home, and it doesn’t spell another thing on earth.

Home for tired hearts , home for weary brains, home for restless nerves — peace, comfort, the joy of living, the delight of little pleasures, the bright fire on the hearth, the plant in the pot in the corner. The books on the shelf and on the table — your chair on one side and his not too far away on the other Moonlight or starlight sunshine or rain — foggy or windy old or young — careless or careful — beautiful or plain — H-O-M-E. And put, too, in your hope chest, first of all — love. True, honest, faithful, trusting love.

Love that does not fail at the first provocation. Love that is kind. Love that is understanding. Love that will be to the man of your heart like a shield and a buckler in the battle of life. Love that will mean not hungry greed, not self-indulgence, not cruel rapacity — but generous, free, full giving — and giving — and giving — or only those who give can ever really receive.

What every girl wanted: A cedar-lined Lane hope chest for linens and her trousseau

Faith and hope in your hope chest

And with your love put faith. Calm-eyed and level-hearted. And with that tie up a nosegay of hope, sweet, gay, light-hearted hope. Throw that into your chest, and for a good measure gather up a few herbs from the humble garden of patience — throw them into the chest.

And when you are all done and the chest is full and you put your hand into the hand of the man who loves you, take the chest with you and^ go somewhere together, and make in this harried, restless, worried world a haven and a shelter and a snug harbor against all the kinds that blow and all the storms that rage, and call it “H-O-M-E.”

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Then you will have a real hope chest, and one of honest meaning and good import.

Classic wooden antique hope chest for linens

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