Three children stand on the front porch of their small, weather beaten home. Three pair of brown eyes squint against the blazing Georgia sun. A huge dust cloud billows behind the white El-Camino mail truck. Three pair of long brown legs race outside, and three pair of hands reach for the mailbox. Jen-et, Junior and Peaches are hoping the boxes will arrive today.
Every year the children wait for school supplies and clothes from their northern relatives. Weeks pass and nothing arrives. Their disappointment turns to panic. Finally, Aunt Ruby sends money for clothes. Lillian sends school supplies and Uncle Melvin sends new shoes.
Ma and Pa spread everything out on the white wrought iron bed. There are school supplies, matching outfits, underwear, socks, shoes, and two coats. Pa sighs “Jen-et needs something warm.” Ma nods, “Tomorrow, I’ll look through the trunk. Maybe there will be something I can use.”
The beautifully carved trunk has been in Ma’s family for generations. It stored all kinds of interesting and unusual things. Ma and Pa always found what they needed. The children believed the trunk was filled with unlimited possibilities.
The trunk held white quilt batting, colored buttons, odd shaped fabric scraps, and all sorts of brick-a-brack. Nothing seems just right for a little girl. Something tucked in the corner caught Ma’s eye.
The fabric was perfect for a little girl’s warm winter wrap. Peaches said it felt fluffy like a cloud, and thin like a pancake. Junior said it was bright like sunshine and dark like a moonless night. Jen-et said it smelled sweet like a gardenia and fresh like a cucumber.
The wrap buttoned under Jen-et’s chin, and flowed over her shoes. She wore the wrap to school, to church, and to visit all the relatives. By spring, it showed signs of wear and tear. The wrap was tucked away in the trunk of possibilities.
Summer quickly passed. The relatives sent everything, except something warm for Junior. Ma found the worn wrap in the trunk of possibilities. Enough good fabric was left to make a warm, winter jacket. Junior wore the jacket to school, to church, and to visit all the relatives. By spring, the jacket was frayed and buttons were missing. It went back into the trunk of possibilities.
Again, the relatives sent the children’s school needs. Peaches needed something warm. Junior’s old jacket was in the trunk of possibilities. Enough good fabric was left to make a warm winter vest. Peaches wore the vest to school, to church, and to visit all the relatives. By spring the vest was frayed and buttons were missing. It went back in the trunk of possibilities and remained there many years.
The children grew up, and finished school. One by one they got married and moved away from home. They often talked about the trunk of possibilities at family dinners. The trunk remained closed until Jen-et had the first grandchild.
Ma wanted to make a special gift for the baby. Nothing seemed just right. Late one evening she opened the trunk of possibilities. There was Peaches old worn vest. Tenderly touching the fabric, Ma remembered Junior’s jacket, and Jen-et’s wrap.
She fashioned a blanket from the vest. The blanket was fluffy like a cloud, flat like a pancake. It was shiny like the sun and black like a moonless night. It smelled sweet like a gardenia and fresh like a cucumber. The baby used the blanket at home, at church and when visiting all the relatives. Tattered and worn, Ma placed it back in the trunk of possibilities.
The blanket stayed there until Junior’s first child. Ma made a tiny pillow for the baby. The baby used the pillow at home, at church, and when visiting all the relatives. The pillow became flat and flabby. It went back into the trunk of possibilities.
The trunk was opened again with Peaches first child. There among the odd buttons, fabric scraps and brick-a-brack was the flat, flabby pillow. Ma used the fabric to make a bib. The baby wore the bib at home, to church, and to visit all the relatives. Torn and stained, the bib was returned to the trunk of possibilities.
The bib and the beautifully carved trunk became a part of the family’s tradition. They gather to tell stories of the interesting and unusual things in the trunk. It is their best and most special time together. They are gathering around the trunk of possibilities to this very day.
Note to Parents: Stories beget stories. Use this story to stimulate memories of important family events, the first day of school, graduation, the birth of a child, leaving home, the first job. These stories connect children to family history and serve as inspiration and motivation. As children learn the family story, they enrich the story with contributions from their own life.