Every so often I pull the shoebox from my closet, usually when it falls on my head as I’m looking for something else. Unavoidable scrutiny rises from contents spilled on the floor. My shoebox isn’t in the best of shape, it never occurrs to me to find a sturdier, more suitable box. I prefer to tape it up, return the treasure and slide it back on the shelf.

Shoebox contains letters – 50 years of hopes, dreams, heartache, and best wishes. The better part of life falls on my head from a dusty duct taped box. I don’t read them, feel remorse or contemplate any life other than the one I have. If anything I worry about what others might think if something happened to me and they found my shoebox. As my children grow older I worry less and less about misunderstanding or judgement. My husband may not even realize the shoebox exists but would cherish the contents as much as I do – our youth lives in that box.

Mostly I look at the handwriting; the author instantly recognizable by the slant of their pen. Handwriting is comforting; a gift in ways tweets, texts, and emails could never be. My shoe box lives and breathes with every stroke of the pen, every word hand crafted and immortal. My shoebox may be tattered and dusty yet the contents whisper for all eternity.

Canadian schools are dropping cursive writing from the curriculum. Aside from obvious issues like signing your name when opening a bank account, passport, or back of a credit card – shoe boxes will only be half full. Before long no one will even remember what it felt like to open an envelope – memories will live in a “cloud” not a closet. The world just won’t be the same without shoe boxes falling on our heads.

29 thoughts on “Shoebox

  1. Got one just like it but not as organized, though my box is sturdier.

    Going one further: as the only grandchild interested in old photos and correspondence, I received a 50 or so of correspondence (cards, letters) that my grandparents, my mother and her brotherc exchanged while they were interned in japanese concentration camps in indonesia from 1943 to 1945. Camps, plural, because they were separated by sex. A strange combination of light banter and shocking news, all mixed up. Like the one where my mother writes to her father to announce that his wife has died of hunger and but that his sister is doing very well.

    It’s another shoebox of life that would have been thrown out if I hadn’t collected it. These boxes tend to disappear but personally I cherish them and although my own box is at the lowest shelf, it still falls on my head every now and then.

    • Your shoebox should become a museum, you are the curator of an important piece of history.

      I want to become the guardian of my mother’s shoebox.My grandfather and most of his family were gold miners – post cards, pictures, and letters from the mining camps, company towns, and steamships at the turn of the last century.

  2. Another great post to ponder. Everybody should have a “Shoe Box”. Mine is not a box, like in a real box, but instead is a drawer in an old desk where we also saved old birthday cards, anniversary, congratulatory, condolence and announcement cards etc. Plus the occasional scribble of a grandchild.

  3. I built a Baltic Birch plywood box about ten years ago and just put the shoebox into it. It has routed out handles and is tall enough to accomodate another shoe box on top of the original as I intend to inherit my mother’s shoebox of family photos going back to the late 1800’s. Excellent post.

  4. ” the author instantly recognizable by the slant of their pen. Handwriting is comforting; a gift in ways tweets, texts, and emails could never be. ” – beautifully said.

  5. I don’t have a shoebox, but I maintain series of diaries for every year in which I manage to save all the letters,cards or notes that I have got from my friends and family. It is true that they bring all the nostalgia that the E-mails and messages would never bring. In India there is a festival called “Rakha Bandhan” which is a sole festival celebrated between brothers and sisters. When I am not around, I send all my brothers a Rakhee(a thread/decorated band) and post a letter. The reaction I get from them is heart warming.

  6. My writing is terrible now due to MG and several hand injuries. I have a hard time reading my printing, let alone my cursive which looks something like a bad ECG.
    I think by eliminating that, the schools are making the kids dumber. Maybe that’s their purpose. I wonder what they are teaching since one state had to pass a law to teach geography. I had a hard time believing that. Geography is a basic.
    Anyway, I’ll miss cursive. It can be so beautiful.

  7. The writing from the past is a treasure. Because schools are not teaching cursive, It is sad that even today’s youth cannot read the elegant writing of their great grandparents. I hate to think that cursive could be a lost language for individual members of future generations.

  8. Oh! I agree with this 100%. I came across my shoebox the other week when I was cleaning and felt obligated to look at the contents and ponder on them – it’s just what one does when one comes across The Shoebox.

  9. When I feel passionate about losing mechanical writing, I start writing everything in cursive. I won several of these treasure boxes and a number of notebooks filled with writing and dream journals, mostly pre-internet. I recently tried to get a letter exchange going with an old friend. I am still waiting for her reply. Oh well…I am grateful to my blog friends who at least still value writing, listening and sharing like this. Thanks for writing and for the follow!

  10. Thanks for the link 🙂 I think I know what you mean about handwriting “being comforting”; although it makes sense to keep things digitally, I suppose, there’s so much more warmth in being able to hold (and smell!) papers and photographs.

    Whatever the format, though, we all need at least a metaphorical shoebox to clout us on the head! Lovely post 🙂

  11. What a lovely post! My shoebox would have to be the size of a shipping container to hold all that this hoarder holds dear. Thank you for your lovely comment on our blog and the links. This is the first one that I have read and am looking more forward than ever to reading the rest of your link suggestions.
    k- of k&p Catalano

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