Friday, January 08, 2010

What Christmas Brought At Our House

My grandfather is 86 years old and he makes things out of wood. Because he was a carpenter he helped my parents build their home and in most of my childhood memories he's nailing shingles on the roof, putting up studs and carrying sheets of plywood while wearing his striped overalls with his red handkerchief sticking out of the back pocket. I can't go into Home Depot, Lowes or any construction site and smell lumber and sawdust without thinking of him--it's been wired into my brain forever.

This year he made me a chest. When you open it you take a deep breath to catch the burst of cedar as it releases into the air and it has a little brass plaque inside that says, "2009--to Michelle from Grandpa Nichols" and it has the fancy, heavy hinges that let the lid glide closed without a sound. It's supposed to be one of those "hope" chests and it stores my great-grandmother's quilt that won her a blue ribbon in an Idaho county fair ages and eons ago though Lillian calls it a "casket" and likes to hide in it. Rather disturbing, but what are you going to do with a seven year-old?

When Grace saw it and read the little brass plaque she said, "Wow, Mom, it's so beautiful." Then with a sly glance to the side said, "That's something you can even pass down!"

Because she didn't know that Grandpa surprised us both and made one final trunk--he swore it was his seventeenth and last one--for her. It's nearly identical to mine but with the inlaid dovetails slightly altered and we saved it for her for Christmas morning. Of all the things either of us could have got for Christmas it was perfect gift. Times two.

Sponsored by Dimples and Dandelions

57 comments:

jacjewelry said...

It is absolutely exquisite! Too funy that your daughter hides in it. :) How special that your grandpa made it for you (and one for your daughter!).

Jill in MA said...

Very special!

Mel said...

Michelle, this is a wonderful post. I really appreciate you writing it. I copied it and sent it to Dad. I am sure he will feel the same way about it.

Love,
Dad

patty w said...

OH Michelle...how sweet that is!

They are gorgeous and what a great memory to treasure always!

What a wonderful Grandfather !

Janelle said...

How beautiful!

a Tonggu Momma said...

Absolutely gorgeous! My husband is a woodworker as well. Oh, and don't let Grace loose with a Sharpie. My Aunt M, when she was about ten, wrote her name on the bottom of all of the furniture pieces she wanted passed down to her. Yes, she seriously did. Heh.

midwest mama said...

Beautiful! What a treasure to have for always.

Reno said...

That is a beautiful hope chest. To realize that your Grandfather made it for you makes it even more beautiful.

Lynn said...

Wow, that's gorgeous! Your grandfather is a very talented man.

The Source said...

Wow...what a beautiful and priceless gift for both you and your daughter. Something to cherish forever.

Alison Kelley said...

It's very beautiful and very special! It's treasures like these that will keep the memory of someone special alive forever.

Allegria said...

I can't think of anything to add that hasn't been said. Beautiful to look at, beautiful workmanship, beautiful memories, and a beautiful grandparent's soul.

Heart2Heart said...

Michelle,

What a beautiful gift to receive that shows so much love and hard work that was labored into each and every detail. Love it!

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Melissa said...

How beautiful! This post brought tears to my eyes, because it makes me think of my own grandfather. :-)

Laurie said...

What a heart-warming story. And he made two! At his age, too. Speaking of caskets... there's a "home store" for caskets in a small town near here. There is usually a casket or two sitting in the front room, amongst the sofa, chairs, TV, and ... baby play pen. I wonder if the older kids take naps in the caskets?

RefreshMom said...

Beautiful! I love that your daughter already sees that special connection. Our world has become so 'disposable' minded, we don't cherish heirlooms the way we once did.

Our first and my favorite wedding gift came from one of Hubs' uncles. A pair of lovely walnut candlesticks he made. They're all the more precious because they're made from trees from Hubs' grandmother's home. He grew up across the walnut orchard from her and her place was his sanctuary when his own home was in turmoil.

How special for both you and your daughter to have a gift that was made with love and thoughts of you in every board, every minute.

Pam said...

How special - times 2!

Kara said...

What a beautiful post... and an even more gorgeous chest - one that will be full of memories before long, I have no doubt.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Hope chests for Christmas holds a special lace in my family and there are many stories about them, all very loved. How special that you both have one.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Truly gorgeous. I'm so glad he made two of them. :)

page2 said...

What a beautiful chest. Such a treasure. How nice that he made one for Lillian too.

Carina said...

There's no gift so wonderful as something that required skill and dedication on the part of the giver. That really says love.

Almost makes me wish I had some useful skills!

Aleta said...

oh wow - and now she doesn't have to wait for you to die ;)

BONNIE K said...

What a beautiful gift, and how nice that you'll always have those memories. I always wished I could be handy and make stuff like that but I don't think it was meant to be.

Nanette said...

What a special gift for you and your daughter. You will always think of him everytime you pass it by. The fact that your daughter has the appreciation for it is awesome. Enjoy! Thanks for sharing.

Beverlydru said...

Funny,I just posted about a fine wood crafter today too. Builderman has not built a hope chest yet, though he's made inumerable beautiful things. This is on my wish list now. A treasure - such a gift of love.

Heather said...

How lucky you are! An absolutely lovely gift...from the heart.

ParkerMama said...

Lovely! Truly the stuff memories are made of.

Tammy and Parker
www.prayingforparker.com
@PakerMama on Twitter

~3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

Absolutely beautiful. What a sweet grandfather you have who also does exquisite woodwork. So happy for Grace too.

bigguysmama said...

What a precious gift your grandpa gave you and your daughter! The legacy passed on with your great grandma's quilt. Both absolutely priceless!

~Mimi @ Woven by Words

Lori said...

How sweet! I bet Grace was very happy she didn't have to wait.

FYI @Tonggu Momma, if the furniture has been sealed (and if it is the underside, it's not likely but this is worth a shot anyway) with a soft towel gently rub whitening toothpaste over the sharpie. Circular motions work best. Rinse with water once the marks are off. It worked on our desk when my son got to it.

Alice Wills Gold said...

I am in tears...how gorgeous.

lucky lucky you to have such a talented grandfather.

Sandy said...

The chest is beautiful and what wonderful memories you have.

Some Lucky Dog said...

That's so special, you'll always cherish it. My grandpa built a little cabinet for a play kitchen for me when I was a little girl. It still sits in my house and I love it so much :)

Melissa said...

That is beautiful!!! A true heirloom!

Nate and Stacia said...

That's incredible! So, so, sweet. Too bad he's done making them. I've been searching for someone that will make one for me.
Casket-hehe!

planetnomad said...

You know how priceless those are! So cool!

Cheri said...

It is so beautiful! What a wonderful gift, so very special.

miriama said...

OMG That is so wonderful. It was always a dream of mine to have one. You are lucky and it is lovely that your father posted here as well. :)

Daisy said...

Priceless. Simply priceless.

Brooke said...

What a treasure! It's simply lovely.

Ginny said...

I've been bugging my carpenter husband to make one for over 12 years. You are so lucky. What a treasure to have that your grandfather made for you!

Jackie said...

The chest is absolutely beautiful! What a wonderful gift!

Kristen M. said...

Awesome gift. It's also great that your daughter appreciates the love and workmanship that went into making it.

mannequin said...

How nice that your daughter is wise enough to appreciate a gift from the heart. It's a beautiful gift all the way around.

Naomi said...

What a beautiful gift!

ChiefFamilyOfficer said...

WOW! That's beautiful - and I got a little teary thinking about what your daughter's reaction must have been :)

Lisa said...

How beautiful and wonderful to receive such a gift!!

Alison said...

So special. What a wonderful, wonderful gift.

Amber M. said...

I sure treasure Anna's little baby cradle he made for her...what a wonderful man he is!

37 Questions said...

What thoughtful and absolutely beautiful gifts.

Sonja said...

What a treasure! Times two.

Sonja said...

What a treasure! Times two.

Janet said...

Such beautiful work! My grandfather also was a woodworker, but he had to give it up by the time he was about 78 because he was cutting his fingers more than the wood.

Stephanie said...

That *is* the perfect gift! Handmade and from the heart! It's absolutely beautiful. :)

stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

Linda said...

Michelle -

This brought tears to my eyes (as it did a LOT of people, I'm sure...) because of the memories of your Grandfather that I have. I am pleased and honored to say that my daughter, too, is the recipient of one of these beautiful chests. It is a gift that I cherish more so than she, but she, too, will cherish it later in life when she learns the story behind it.

ashleyenfrance said...

How special!