Secrets in My Hatbox

Just behind my desk, a wicker table holds three hat-boxes: One is floral, another has a repeating Tuscan scene and the third is transparent, the contents held taut by pale blue gossamer fabric. All are chock full of memorabilia from days gone by. All three, a type of journal-in-the-making.


Depending on your style, your journal may be traditional with words and lists. Maybe you even paint or use colored pencils to amuse yourself or record an image. If you are tech savvy, you may have a photo journal, an audio or video journal. Maybe you are even into scrap-booking.

A hat-box is a type of scrapbook, really, a place to keep ticket stubs, magazine and newspaper clippings, programs, and fliers. You don’t actually have to write anything, unless you are into marginal notes, underlining and highlighting like me.

A few weeks ago, I opened one of my hat-boxes and found an article on the sexuality of corn that I may use on a blog post next spring. A page of a man’s outfit I thought natty also surfaced along with an article about videotaping I must have liked back in the May 7, 2007 issue of Newsweek.

Camcorder article

Suit magazine page

I like the irony of a Mennonite girl keeping clippings in a hat-box, hats forbidden in my teen years when fancy hats were then popular. But just like my youth, hat-boxes don’t contain the end of my story but seed kernels of what is yet to be.


Do you have a container, odd or simply utilitarian, for memorable “stuff”?

What does it look like? What do you keep inside?  Inquiring minds want to know . . . .


29 thoughts on “Secrets in My Hatbox

  1. Good morning, Marian! I love that you even have hat boxes–and that you use them for storing ephemera is doubly delicious. Did you see the photos of Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney’s bride carrying a hat box like a purse?
    I mostly have piles, more piles, storage boxes, and chaos. 🙂


    1. Wow, I’m more in style than I imagined, Merril. Lately I haven’t been keeping up with pop culture very much, but I’ll check it out, you can be sure.

      Just remember you have a great knack for turning piles of “chaos” (as you call it) into tomes of international acclaim.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ditto what Merrildsmith wrote.about too many piles. Should I toss old cards sent me? Hard to do. Old pictures? Only if they are blurred, dark, or bad. My favorite squirreled away keepers are little datebooks–the free Hallmark kind–where I scribbled in literal dates after they happened-especially the year I met my future husband: where we went, what we did. Thank you for reminding me of that. Might have to dig it out for my own blog post. Then there is my file cabinet with one folder named “Weird to keep but interesting.” In there you’ll find my weight throughout high school, lists of cutest boys, lists of guys I dated. Hmm.

    You surely have more than these 3 boxes!!


    1. Yes, I have files of old lesson plans and other paraphernalia that I am loathe to throw out, one of which says something like “weird but interesting.” Keeping your weight throughout high school seems akin to my keeping pretty napkins in a box during my adolescent years. I have since thrown them out, but how weird to collect them in the first place. Wild guess: they were FANCY!

      I wonder – how long was your list of guys you dated? Hmmmmm


  3. We have a Godiva chocolates box in brown velvet on the dresser. Whenever we have a big problem and we can’t figure an answer, we write in down and slip it into what my husband refers to as the “God Box”, and forget about it. We open it up and read through them on New Year’s Eve. Funny to go back and read all those big problems we thought we had and think on how they were resolved at the end of the year.


    1. This comment arrived at the perfect moment. My husband and I have a problem right now that would fit into the “God Box” category. I love your idea, one that would be so easy to turn into a blog post, if/when you care to divulge secrets.

      Thanks heaps, Susan.


  4. Marian — I, too, like that you keep your clippings in hatboxes, the keeper of headwear that was once forbidden to you. It’s like a personal exclamation mark!

    My only “container” is a file folder clearly marked “Death File.” It contains our wills and all of the information our grown son will need when we pass away: insurance information, bank information, PIN numbers to access online information, and that type of thing. Along with a handwritten letter (that I update each year on New Year’s day) letting him know how proud I am of him, how much I love him (more than tongue can tell!), and that he’s an amazing human being whose contribution to the world is positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing.


    1. Laurie, you are the gold standard for minimal living with maximum benefit.

      I like how you merge the legal with the loving legacy to your son in your file. Positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing are words I would use to describe you. As Grandma Longenecker (and many others have said): The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!


  5. Marian … As a self-confessed pack rat, I have many containers. One of my favorites is a tin container with handles that looks like it could be a mini-lunch box. It has teddy bears on it. Inside, there is a glass slipper from my youngest daughter’s wedding, a photo with our granddaughter, a little Cabbage Patch doll and other memorabilia. I also have a box covered in cloth that I made when I was a Girl Scout. It, too, has many silly and fun items from my youth. Thanks for sharing your memories. 😉


    1. And thanks for sharing yours. The hodge podge of lovable items you describe seem a lot like those we are finding in the drawers we’re are sorting through at Mother’s house. Lovingly stored, now hard to part with. I have concluded, it’s not just the objects, but the sentiments they evoke, that are being stored. Ephemera, true, but much more.

      Your comments always welcome, Judy.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t have any hat boxes but I have a number of boxes filled with memorabilia. I have had to go through them as I prepare to move and my I have found some interesting things. Hard to decide what to keep and what to discard. It has been a walk down memory lane!


    1. What to keep, what to throw out or recycle – that is the question! Right now I have two sisters helping me answer that question as we go through Mother’s things.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you in Canada, Darlene.


    2. So fun to see you here, Darlene, old buddy, old friend, old blogging buddy and fellow author! I Just got introduced to Mariam through Kathleen Poolers blog. So fun to see old friends!

      I didn’t Know you were moving. How hard that must be. Good luck in that department. 🙂


  7. I love your hat boxes! I think my older daughter would love them.
    Since we just moved, I parted with a lot, but can’t think what at the moment…which is a case in point. Out of sight, out of mind. I do scrapbook and dream of condensing all the photo albums to more readable, inviting books.


    1. It sounds like you have kept the essence of what defines you, the raw material for your next book. Like you, photo albums trigger memories and often provide the spark of inspiration I need to write.

      Your older daughter sounds a lot like you, Georgette. Thanks for adding to our conversation.


  8. HI Mariam, I just came for a visit from over Kathleen’s Pooler’s way having just finished her memioir. I Love this conversation of where we store our memorabilia. I have a whole hutch devoted to my photos and four file cabinets of stuff, mostly journals where I file everything.

    In the honor of downsizing I might start looking through some of that soon. taking a folder at a time. It will be hard. It will be necessary. 🙂


    1. Welcome, Clara! I have seen your smile on Kathy Pooler’s website and perhaps others, and I do remember doing a preview of “Annie’s Special Day,” amazed at the lovely illustrations, text, and theme underlying it all. You personally have an inspirational story as well, have been transplanted from the Netherlands at age seven and now blooming in a literary garden of your own creation. Brava!

      Do visit often. I typically post on Wednesdays and Saturdays: memories from my childhood as a Mennonite and vignettes such as this one about my writing process. Again, thanks for stopping by today.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love your hat boxes. I have a drawer full of ticket stubs and such like. I’ve also created some large frames pictures using the best of them. Maybe one day I’ll get around to posting about them.


  10. Important things are spread throughout the house. My grandma’s crocheted doilies are displayed on a dark wall behind my bed. I love seeing the mandala patterns there. Her fan is on another wall. My husband’s photos are everywhere, much as they were before his death. So much is held in this computer–and that feels dangerous. And the “important” stuff is backed up at drop box. Is that a real place?

    I’ve lost some wonderful things by relying on computers. There was a lovely interview one minute interview of my husband Vic 5 weeks before he died. I write about viewing it repeatedly in my book, but when I went to find it recently it was gone. I have the StoryCorp interview we did of him on CD, but the first was a video. I messed up and haven’t been able to track it down. Photos are in neat albums or in boxes waiting to be sorted and put in albums. I’m more than a decade behind, but glad for what is already done–and I use the photo album often for blogs.

    Great post, Marian.


    1. I know you respect memory, ritual – all the important things. I’m not sure the Drop Box is a real place, but I hope my external hard drive and MacBook Storage are because many important documents are lodged there. And what about that Cloud, the iCloud?

      Like you, I tap into my 20 + photo albums for posts as well. Thanks for your visit today. I love your anecdotes.


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