I just put an empty shoebox in my son’s room. Why? Because every kid should have empy shoeboxes to fill.
I remember as a kid all the services shoeboxes had.
Some held saved greeting cards, playing cards and jokers, and other bits of ephemera grown-ups needed not to see when they came to supervise room cleaning.
Other boxes held Barbie’s clothes — especially those I made out of hankies and safety pins and whatnot and so could not easily be stored on the hangers in her houses.
My little plastic horses didn’t have fancy play or storage sets, so shoeboxes took care of those needs.
And once I found the coolest blue metallic beetle-bug outside and I kept it in the shoebox under my bed, sorry mom & dad. (Don’t worry; he didn’t get out in the house. He died in there and that made me so sad that from then on I only played with such things on the screened-in sun porch… I bet you remember my inchworm “habitats” — and that each and every inchworm went back outside after I played with them. Lesson of the shoebox bug learned.)
My point is that each shoebox was like a treasure chest, full of a child’s idea of booty. Inside each cardboard container, secrets were kept, preserved, and most important of all — the prizes remained protected from the prying eyes of parents and siblings alike (any of which had their own motives for plundering).
Shoeboxes contained, preserved, and, because they were so innocuously portable, even displayed the tangible relics of our soles souls. Filling your father’s empty shoeboxes was like the antidote for “filling your father’s shoes.” Each box was all about you.
I’ll confess that I’ve saved one such shoebox collection of my own…
It’s not the actual same shoebox I used as a child. But as I down-sized the boxes through the years, these are the bits and bobs I saved… My old playing card jokers; two of my most beloved plastic toy horses , Sugar and Flame; Sugar’s saddle and hitching post; a small horse head I made in art class; and a few other assorted pieces of ephemera. And when I found myself with such a little bit to save, I grabbed the nearest shoebox and I knew my childhood pieces had found their home. (I swear Flame and Sugar whinnied in appreciation!)
My adult self knows that cardboard boxes aren’t the best long term storage solution options for most things aged and fragile, especially paper. But the amazing thing about shoeboxes is their ability to hold, preserve and maintain the memories and all the joyful magic of childhood inside them — no matter how many years pass.
I strongly encourage you to save your shoeboxes. Give them to the children in your lives. And, if you have not already done so, be sure to save a few for yourself.
Make a time capsule of your childhood, start a new secret collection, recapture the joy of collecting in a shoebox.