The stories of our stuff

Today I’m blogging on the couch, with my laptop resting on a big wooden chest.  It’s no antique, but it’s solid and stained to look like jarrah, with big wrought iron handles and corner bits.  There’s an old Australian half-penny inlaid above the lock.

The chest was a twenty-first birthday present from my Aunty Max, who also happens to be my Godmother.  She shares my love of books, and she tells me stories.  She tells stories about our family, about things, and about people she meets.  I don’t think she’s ever given me a present without telling me a story about how she found it, or why she bought it.

Aunty Max bought me the chest because of the half-penny.  It’s the old Australian half-penny with a kangaroo on it, dated 1946.  She told me the coin reminded her of a lovely man she’d met, who’d come across to Australia as a ten-pound pom.  The ten-pound poms were British immigrants to Australia after World War II, who took Australia’s offer of passage for £10.  It was a long boat ride in those days, and in one  port (Mauritius?  India?) they threw pennies over the side for the local kids to dive for.

That’s one story that goes with the chest.  Then there’s my story.  It’s followed me everywhere for ten years, holding blankets or kitchen stuff and once doing double duty as a piano stool.  Right now it’s full of my handbags, because it used to sit at the end of my bed, but soon it will be cleared out and filled with board games, as befits it’s new roll as coffee table.

It has a few scratches, but it’s a very loved thing, and I wouldn’t part with it.  Aunty Max has given me some great presents over the years, and a few that I couldn’t figure out.  But the biggest gift she gave me was in valuing stories, and valuing curiousity, and being a grown up who cared about the stories of stuff.

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