Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

What’s In Your Box?

on November 16, 2013


Last week, I received a Panic Call from the Admissions Office of the University. They had requested my transcripts from the high school I graduated from but had yet to receive them.

I imagine that someone from my school was still wandering through the catacombs to find this ancient document and had yet to return from their dark and dusty search.

I was asked if I had ANYTHING that would prove I was a high school graduate. They would be able to accept a copy of my high school diploma until the transcripts arrived.

“Well, I doubt that after forty five years that I still have my diploma on hand, but I guess I could check ‘The Box.'”

“What box?” the admissions director asked.

With a sigh, I said, “You don’t want to know.  I’ll get back to you.”

I have kept up the family tradition, passed down by generations of McMahon’s, of owning a Family Box.  It’s cardboard and dwells in my closet along with unused shoes and the Christmas decorations.

What’s in it?  It’s filled with photos and family memorabilia that never made it to the Family albums, never earned a place of honor on the wall and usually, it’s hard to identify where the contents came from.

Many times over the years, I would stare at the box and swear to go through it and put the photos in albums.  Never happens.  When the contents threaten to overflow, I just go out and get a bigger box.

A search through “The Box” normally involves spending countless hours staring at dead relatives, places I can’t identify or people who have escaped into the dark recesses of my memory; their names just on the tip of my tongue but never remembered.  The box holds the memories but doesn’t always share it’s secrets!

A lot of hours are spent looking at pictures at a younger version of my parents, my siblings and yours truly and of course, my own little darlings.  I’ll shake my head when I come across pictures of ex-husbands and reach out to throw them out, but never manage to do so. They were a part of my life, albeit an unpleasant part, and they had earned their place in “The Box.”

I think the only thing that I ever managed to take out of the box and discard was the flower I so carefully wrapped in cellophane from the wrist corsage I wore to my Senior Prom.  It had turned into a dangerous looking fungus and turned out to be the source of that funky smell I noticed each time I approached “The Box.”

Having to spend a day or two searching through the box was not what struck fear into my heart.  I knew if my box failed to turn up the elusive diploma, it just might be in my deceased sister’s collection which I inherited when she passed.

She didn’t have a box like mine, she was a more prolific family historian.  Her collection is stored in two suitcases and three garbage bags.

Of course, my mother who is still alive and kicking (bless her heart) has a box.  That box resides in the state of Washington, where my mom now lives, and there is no way I’m jumping a plane to look for my diploma.

After the Admissions departments phone call, I did the next best thing than to having to go to “The Box.”  I called the high school and begged the woman who answered to help me out.  She took pity on me when I explained about “The Box” and faxed a copy of my transcripts to the University.

Whew, it was a narrow escape!  Now I can rest easy and get back to my studies.  I did make a note to buy a bigger box…after all, I’ll need room for all of those Christmas pictures I’ll be taking!

If my daughter is reading this, and giggling over my dilemma, she should be forewarned.  When I go, honey, you get “The Box.”  Tee hee!

26 responses to “What’s In Your Box?

  1. Bastet says:

    Oh my…know something about these boxes! Good thing the school took pity on you! Have you had a peek at this…know your busy…. …You can delete it if you want to once you’ve looked at it 😉

  2. mewhoami says:

    I understand that dilemma all too well. When I have to get my son’s birth certificate for example, I dread having to visit “the box”. That box contains all the most precious memories of my life. A simple look for a birth certificate can turn into an entire afternoon adventure and cry fest. But, if there’s ever a fire and I have time to grab one thing, it’ll definitely be “the box”.

  3. Mrs Finkling says:

    we had the a ‘box’ too!!! all sorts of crap in there – birthday cards, mass cards, photos, letters…. id love going through it when we were growing up – the box was like the family treasure chest!

    • M E McMahon says:

      I do dip in the dreaded box once in a while for a random picture that will spark a story…and you’d be amazed how many times it actually works!

      • Mrs Finkling says:

        I know!! For me, especially the pictures of when my parents were young – its just fascinating! Our ‘box’ so happened to be an old biscuit tin, just remembered that haha – thanks for bringing back the memories!

  4. tric says:

    Now I know I can’t ever go back to college as I have “creatively” misinterpreted my leaving certificate exam results and even did very well in subjects I never even sat! Heaven forbid my kids will ever find out.

  5. CharleneMcD says:

    Ah, if only I was so organized to have just one box. That would take days to create. Because then I would have to empty out several boxes to combine them. Best just leave them just like they are and when I get really old and gray I can go thru them one at a time and discard the stuff that only I know what it means. So glad the school took pity on you. I have no idea where my diploma is either. I had it once when I started college in 1996 but have not seen it since. I know it is somewhere in a box, at least I hope it is.

  6. Gwen Stephens says:

    If it was as simple as someone standing over the fax machine, why couldn’t someone at the school have done that in the first place? Bureaucracy is infuriating sometimes, isn’t it?

    I have a box too, Crank. It’s shoved in the corner of the basement, and every time we move it compels me to wonder why I keep lugging all this crap around! I also kept my prom corsage…guess I better keep my nostrils open for a funky smell.

    • M E McMahon says:

      You might have wrapped yours better than mine. It might not look like a science experiment!

      When I was growing up, my high school (inner city) was considered one of the best in Connecticut. Now I find that they have made the top 100 list of worst schools. Sad…so sad.

      The admissions director actually told me that the Principal of the school, who she contacted in an effort to get the records, was surprised that a high school diploma was required to enter college.

      Again, sad…so sad.

  7. btg5885 says:

    Mary Ellen, one of the first projects I ever did after college was working with a small city client who stored dead files in a barn. They lost two years of data when a terrible storm flooded the barn. Maybe that is where your high school file is – washed away. Good luck, BTG

    • M E McMahon says:

      Don’t laugh…my father once tried to get his birth certificate from New Jersey and they said that the records were burned in a fire! Luckily, his birth certificate showed up in our Family Box…otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to prove he’d been born!

  8. mewhoami says:

    Thought of you today as I had to go through “the Box”. I’ve realized, or have been reminded that, that adventure is very bittersweet. Memories are both wonderful and heartbreaking. I don’t want to do that again for awhile. Oh, and I don’t have one box. I have two! That’s even worse.

  9. D.G.Kaye says:

    Lol, I know all about ‘the box’. Incidentally found my diploma in that vicinity while searching for something else. Looked back at a yearbook and had some laughs! Nice share!

  10. Isn’t it funny how every family seems to have a version of “The Box”! … and I also dread any time I have to go hunting for something that might involve mine 🙂

  11. Sallyann says:

    Oh to have just a box !…
    I’m a bit of a hoarder (no, I’m a lot of a hoarder) so I don’t have a box of stuff, I have a house, a shed and an attic. 🙂
    I do, surprisingly, know where pretty much everything can be found but I don’t pity the sorter who has to sort my “box” after me. 😀

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