The Box in the Basement
Almost twenty years ago, I found a wooden box at Goodwill. It was marked eight dollars. Furniture that day was half off. Apparently the box with its hinged lid counted as furniture because I got it for four bucks.
I took my find home to use as a toy box for my first grandchild. Soon it was filled with Thomas trains, wood puzzles, and a talking truck. As Joshua grew we added an assortment of toys. His younger brother and cousin enjoyed the dinosaurs and matchbox cars. As my family grew, more children were added to our clan. Two more boys and three girls.
That old wooden box has served my family well through the years. It has been home to an assortment of stuffed animals, coloring books and crayons, games, and Legos.
It also has housed an assortment of baby dolls, Barbie dolls, and plastic food that is particularly delicious on pretend picnics.
Even empty margarine tubs, sheets of half used stickers, and refrigerator magnets have made their way into the toy box. The box was so full, I could no longer close the lid.
Since my youngest grandchild lives far away and does not show a particular interest in many of the “well-loved” toys in the box, I decided it was time to clean it out.
At least that was my intent. I would clean it out and donate the usable toys to Goodwill. As I started the project, though I found very little worth keeping. I pitched most of the remaining toys, papers, and random puzzle pieces. I threw away the Happy Meal boxes and the broken crayons. I sorted all that was left on my ping-pong table in the basement and made a plan for the proper disposal of the rest.
The stuff I took out wasn’t the problem. The problem was, “What do I do with this box?”
It was not a particularly distinct piece of furniture. I often thought it was perhaps built from woodshop scraps by some loving grandfather as a toy box for his own little ones. I studied the box. It was still sturdy. And useful. As something. Somewhere.
I needed a coffee table so I repaired a couple of the joints and painted the orphaned toy box with a color identified as “tabasco.” After it dried, I painted over it with some old dark walnut stain, let it soak in a minute or two then wiped it off.
My not-so-new toy box now serves as a new-to-me coffee table. And I like it.
It occurs to me that I am like that toy box. I am aging and to some I may not appear as useful as I once was. And yes, I’ve had a joint or two repaired. Yet I still have a lot of good life left in me. And I have the capacity to take on more.
No. I am not going to go down the road of getting a fresh coat of paint. Read: No facelift or hair coloring for me. I don’t need it to find joy.
I simply need a new purpose. And the opportunity to continue to serve others around me. How about you? What is your purpose? How do you serve?