I was perhaps 12 years old when Big Mama gave me this 'jewelry' box as she called it. I loved it right away just because it was old and Big Mama had a habit of giving me things that had belonged to others and had some special meaning to herself. This box was Aunt Leeza's. I am spelling her name phonetically at the moment because I'm not sure how it was actually spelled. (her name was Eleazar, but the family always shortened it to what sounded like Leeza) I was given several of Aunt Leeza's things because, as Big Mama put it, "She was so taken with you."
Aunt Leeza was my great-great-great aunt and I did indeed meet her once when I was perhaps 5 or 6. I clearly remember meeting her at Big Mama's home. I was sort of 'taken' with her too, firstly because she was without a doubt the tiniest adult I'd ever met. Second because she was dressed in a pale blue peignoir that was without a doubt the finest and most beautiful nightgown I'd ever seen outside of a magazine. And third, because she was so very old. I'm not just sure why Aunt Leeza was with Big Mama. She lived in Montezuma and I suppose she'd been ill, though I recall her as smiling and happy that day I visited.
Aunt Leeza died shortly after and hers was the first funeral I attended. I recall going down to Montezuma with Mama and Granny to clear out some things in her tiny little house and taking them back to Big Mama's. Mama shared with me later that the house was so poor that Aunt Leeza had a big trunk, a small table, a bed and one chair. That was the furnishings of her two room house.
This is the mirror inside the lid. Isn't it lovely?
I used this box as my jewelry box for years and years and then used it to keep the most precious things I owned. Things like the first hair lock cut from my babies' heads and the first tooth they lost and the little bracelets they wore at the hospital when they were born and a few other little items that were given to me by my children and the children of friends.
The detailed carving is really quite beautifully done isn't it? My box is missing a foot on the back side but I've loved this box for years on end. It wasn't until the past couple of years that I found a second box...and then I saw a third and fourth, though I didn't buy those. A friend also had several in her home and she told me they were candy boxes! Can you imagine getting a box of chocolates in such a nice keepsake box? That would be a real treasure indeed wouldn't it?
I was given many items over my young years from my family that really helped me form a connection to family roots, either in the form of objects that belonged to someone or through stories. I've said many times I felt especially grounded and blessed in family in those days and I believe it's because of things like this box being in my possession. Perhaps that is why I so love history and am so enjoying tracing out family genealogy lines now.