My grandmother had a wooden armoire in her downstairs sitting room that contained special treats. Chocolates, cookies, or nuts in fancy tins. This armoire was a source of wonder to me, and although it contained an old-fashioned key, it was never locked.
(this armoire reminds me of the one my grandmother had)
That little room is long gone. My aunt Barbara, who took over the house after my grandfather died, completely renovated it to accommodate her own family. The little sitting room became one big living room when they knocked down a wall.
But the armoire didn’t vanish into an antique market. It was moved with my grandmother to a new apartment where she lives to this day (at 91, no less!).
As a child I spent much time at my grandparents’ house. My sister, my brother and I grew up in apartments, so having access to a house, with an attic (!) and a garden (!) and a garage (!) was a wonderful thing for us kids. There was a balcony, a tiny pond, flowers, and a small lawn-bowling alley (on a dirt path beside the house).
And there was the wooden armoire in the sitting room.
As a child growing up in Switzerland, I had access to good quality chocolate and baked goods all the time. These treats were enjoyed regularly, but not daily. No one in my family is obese or unhealthy. Treats were considered just that, treats, something to enjoy with an afternoon tea or coffee, at a birthday celebration, or occasionally when the mood strikes.
My grandmother’s armoire contained those treats, in painted tins and boxes. It was a source of wonder for a child of 6 or 7. I liked that armoire!
Today, I see my own child open my glass-doored Billy bookcase from Ikea with the same sort of wonder. Sure, it’s not an armoire, but he doesn’t know that. What he knows is that inside the bookcase, behind the glass doors, inside a special basket, are heart-shaped Swiss chocolates and special cookies which we sometimes enjoy with tea.
Benjamin knows very well that those treats aren’t for everyday consumption. And he is a trustworthy child; I doubt that he would go into the basket and consume the treats without asking me first. Sonja, on the other hand, can’t be trusted at all. At 16 months, she opens everything all the time and tries out anything she can get her hands on.
Billy bookcases don’t come with keys. But the handle on the glass door is too tall for her to reach, and a simple elastic band keeps the doors “locked”.
It’s amazing to me how such an ordinary thing, like a bookcase with a basket full of treats, can bring back a flood of memories from my own childhood.