Earlier this year, Jenn of Coffee on the Porch with Me wrote a blog post about boxes and storage containers (click here to read). In it, she said --
When I was little, there were no such things as the big plastic storage containers, or clear ones (which are even better!) that exist in abundance today. Items were stored in cardboard boxes. A good solid cardboard box was a coveted thing.
In my comment on her post, I wrote --
I still have (and use) the good solid cardboard box that was our "Christmas box" when I was a kid. That friggin' box is about 60 years old now. It was sent to us full of chocolate and gifts from relatives in Switzerland. I even still use the original twine that my mother tied the box up with every year when she put it away. I should do a blog post next December about my vintage Christmas Box and taking traditions to extremes, LOL!
And now today's the day for that promised blog post!
The Christmas Box arrived as an unexpected surprise package from Switzerland in the early 1960s. I still remember the intense excitement of that day! You couldn't buy Swiss chocolate in Canada then, so we thought we'd died and gone to heaven. We didn't even want to eat the chocolate because it was so beautifully presented in its little gift boxes. In fact, we never did eat one large, cute, foil-wrapped ladybug chocolate. We put it in the china cabinet and just looked at it for years.
We had no idea what "Maggi" referred to on the side of the box. Maggi Meat Seasonings and Sauces were not well known in North America (then or now) but are apparently staggeringly popular in Germany, India, the Middle East and parts of Africa. Maggi bouillon was invented in the late 1800s by a Swiss food production pioneer named Julius Maggi. Who knew?
On the top of the box you can see the faded, cramped, spidery handwriting which was our relatives' return address and our address in Canada (or Kanada as written in German).
And here's a bonus close-up of that now ratty twine!
For the entirety of my childhood, virtually all our Christmas ornaments and decorations were stored in this "good solid cardboard box" between celebrations. When it outlived that purpose at my parents' place, I volunteered to take it off my Mom's hands. I keep it purely for sentimental reasons, of course. This box means CHRISTMAS to me and always will.
You know, I still use it for storing some of my larger Christmas ornaments (which actually don't get displayed all that often anymore). But they receive the honour of being kept in The Christmas Box.
And no matter how old I grow, I am always five years old again when I take this box out of storage, untie its twine and open it to reveal its seasonal treasures within.
[Photos © Debra She Who Seeks, 2022]
Great story. Hmm, I thought it was only cats that liked the box as much as the contents.
They don't make boxes like they used to that's for sure. Can you imagine an Amazon box lasting that long?
I can totally see where you're coming from Debs. We still have two of those "Christmas boxes" which you speak of that have survived the 72 Hurricane Agnes flood in the basement. Just seeing these two boxes does remind me of the holidays and every year the excitement of pulling out their contents. Weird how a cardboard box has such an affect. Sadly, all the others are long gone.
I was born on a NATO base in Germany and when my family came back to Canada, there were wooden boxes with our names painted on the sides. I assumed all families had these wooden boxes. Those boxes lived in out house until my mum sold the house when she was in her eighties. No idea what happened to them sadly.
I would have kept that box as well. It's beautiful, even all these years later and even now I hate throwing out a good box:)
Wow thats pretty amazing and so sustainable using a box for that long. The box does look solid and strong. How lovely to have received it full of swiss chocolate as well. I bet that made for a really good Christmas. I actually still keep cardboard boxes as storage boxes. They are not rodent proof thats the only downside and if kept in a garden shed thats an issue - or can be. In the house they work fine so I prefer them to plastic. And in most cases of course you can collapse them when not being used so also better than the plastic ones. Vintage string as well. Now thats unusual!
Love the story!!!
I think we also had a 'xmas box'. I think it disappeared when my mom sold the house...
We have always been somewhat more intrigued by a good box than by what was inside ... and we still have many good boxes!
After my mother died, I found cardboard boxes items had been shipped in in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. It was a little bit of magic, but nothing as treasured as your Christmas box. How does that cardboard smell at this point?
That's a historic heirloom box you got there. I bet you can remember the smell of that chocolate.
This post warmed my heart, Debra! It's funny to think how all your Christmas decorations fit into that one box, compared to how much many people store away now. As well, you made me laugh a little about putting the ladybug chocolate in the china cabinet (because that is where all special things went). Talk about delayed gratification. -Jenn
I would have kept that box, and the twine, too. I love a good box, especially one that's associated with happy memories. I have been using the same hard plastic storage cases for most of my ornaments for about 35 years or so. One of them cracked when I opened it this year. They have gone all over the country with me and been stored in so many locations. I hate it when something like that meets the end.
I have old boxes like that to hold the Shiny brights and other vintage ornaments. Mine are falling apart and won't last many more year...
I like the ornament holders you show in that earlier post. I place my delicate ornaments in my china cabinet so the little grandkids don't break them but the ornaments would look nicer if I had those.
@ Moving With Mitchell -- The cardboard smells fine! No mustiness or other odor because it was always kept in a dry, warm place and nothing smelly was stored in it. If it did smell musty by now, I would jettison the box. I HATE musty smells and sentiment has its limits, lol.
I love this post so much! The box has such a deep meaning for you and your family. I do wonder how long it traveled from Switzerland to Kanada back in the day? Weeks?
Do you remember when the Lady Bug Chocolate was finally enjoyed?
Some things that appear unseemly to others, those are our greatest treasures.
Heart warming story, my friend.
A wonderful memory! Maggi bouillon is indeed very popular over here (also in my country and in the Netherlands), and available in every supermarket. Your box is lovely. I can imagine that all the sweet memories come back when you hold it and open it. :) We used to have a Sole Mio (a brand of wool blankets) box when I was little for our Christmas stuff. It was a beautiful box with stars on it and very sturdy. Unfortunately it's long gone now. The Swiss chocolate must have tasted wonderful, Switzerland's chocolate is so good (almost as good as our Belgian chocolate hehe). Thanks for sharing this lovely story!
@ Busy Bee Suz -- Yes, I think the package did take a few weeks to reach us in Canada. The Lady Bug Chocolate did finally get opened years and years later. By that time, Swiss Lady Bug chocolates could be purchased here in Canada too, so they were no longer a unique novelty item. We knew that the chocolate would not be edible after so many years, but we unwrapped it just to see what ancient milk chocolate looked like. Neither pretty nor appetizing, lol.
Now, that's a proper box! And, it was the gift of the 'Maggi'! Lol.
I do save 'good' boxes and repurpose them. Earlier this month I was looking for a box to mail something to my pal and couldn't find the appropriate size in my box collection. Had to shift some things from a different one to get that sent off. I couldn't believe I had run so low on boxes!
What a wonderful treasure you have.
@ e -- Sixty years and never once has that pun occurred to me! I salute you with this GROAM of admiration at your cleverness!
This is beautiful touching and heart Warming sharing dear Debra!
I can imagine so well that how precious is this box for you and how it transform you when you look at it specially on such special occasions. Isn't it a blessing that we have memories of such innocent pure and lovely moments when joy we found in little small things was priceless
We all have a ritual that might become obsolete but mean a lot in our own ways
LOL- I just went through and got rid of empty boxes I have kept forever in case "I needed them for something". Your box, however, is very special and I love that you still have it. I don't have much from my childhood at all so treasure that!
Have a wonderful week, Debra. xo Diana
That was brilliant of e! Gift of the Maggi indeed! Your own version, special in its own way.
I only just threw out some boxes that I had kept. Because they were really good boxes.
But I’ve got someone coming to stay and I needed to clean the spare room.
It’s so hard throwing away good things. Like boxes and jars, omg so many jars lol
what a great post! i have a xmas brown paper bag that holds the transformer from my childhood xmas train. it has to be the best paper bag ever made because my dad put it in that bag 57 years ago and i have had it through god knows how many moves, including canada and i don't think it has ever changed or ever been out of the bag. xmas magic!
My mother would have kept that box, and any other well made box. In the department stores, in the forties and fifties and maybe sixties, much of what was sold came in sturdy cardboard boxes. Baby undershirts, women's underwear, women's underwear and hosiery. My mother kept all her unfinished projects in one size or another.
The amount of boxes we get during the year is amazing. We can't keep them all but I die a little inside when I have to throw a perfectly good box away.
That's a box of memories for sure. I keep sturdy cardboard boxes too, but I never seem to need them for anything.
Debra that is the most beautiful story of your Christmas box, it truly is a treasure. My eyes won’t let me see the box but I can picture in my minds eye. Happy Christmas to you and yours❤️
What a wonderful box and beautiful memories.
Well you know me, this is right up my alley! Love your vintage box and the history behind it. That's what I love about collecting not just the interesting item but learning all the backstory goodies about a thing! I have a nativity scene from the 1950's that I inherited from my Mom. It's in a shoe box, lovingly wrapped in Christmas paper of the time. It's tucked away in a closet and I rarely bring it out. Now that you've reminded me of it, maybe I'll bring it out. Merry Christmas Debra! Thank you for this wonderful post.
A wonderful Christmas memory and a pretty darn good box if it is still hanging in there in 2022. My mother-in-law shared one of your memes with me recently (Jesus Christ was originally going to be named Gary) and I thought I need to know this person because that is my type of humor. Well, as it turns out, we have a lot of blogging friends in common so I thought I definitely should say hi so hi.
What wonderful history behind this sentimental box. It is funny how the most random thing means Christmas to individual personalities. I save good cardboard boxes for my business now but rarely need them for shipping since they are too large. So that collection is growing!
This was cool. Love the box. Get the good box would be something I've said. I still have one Christmas box. Not from when I was a kid though I get that no matter how old we are, there are things that bring us right back. Ah ... so cool.
It is amazing how the texture and smell of something like that box can bring back a flood of feelings and memories. I keep some goofy little worn out ornaments from childhood for just that reason.
My main complain about box are the labels. Me personally I put what's in box on separate piece of paper and than tape it on box or the container.
Coffee is on and stay safe
Plastic totes are definitely the best
What a great story! And such a cool box. It's so interesting how these things spark memories.
I love your family Christmas box, Debra. Thanks for sharing your childhood memories! I'm a packrat, and I've saved a lot of Christmas boxes of different sizes. A few of our wrapping boxes are over thirty years old. They come out every Christmas for a new covering of wrapping and ribbons. None of my boxes are as special and cool as your Christmas box!
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