Christopher’s next birthday was an important one because he would be eight years old and could be baptized. He smiled whenever he thought of the pirate party his mother had planned and his favorite foods she would cook.
Early one morning Mother called him to the phone. It was Grandmother Jo. “Would you like to come to my house on your way home from school today?” she asked. “I have a very important treasure to share with you.”
The only treasure Christopher could think of concerned pirates and an X marking the spot for treasure on a treasure map. He eagerly agreed to go.
The school day went by slowly for Christopher, but finally the last bell rang. He ran all the way to Grandma Jo’s, and he was out of breath when she opened the door and gave him a big hug. “Christopher,” she asked, “would you like some hot, freshly baked whole wheat bread?”
Christopher nodded his head as the smell of it grabbed him by the nose and pulled him into the kitchen. He sat down at the kitchen table and watched the butter melt as his grandmother spread it on a slice of hot bread. Then she added homemade raspberry jam, and his stomach gave a little growl, begging for a bite. Grandmother Jo handed him the bread and poured him a glass of milk. Oh, how he loved that taste!
When he had finished eating, Christopher followed Grandmother Jo to the living room, where a curious-looking box sat on a low table by the sofa.
“Now that you’re going to be eight, I want to share a special treasure chest with you,” she said. Carefully she opened the lid, and Christopher saw a glint of metal. His heart beat faster as he imagined pirate gold and jewels!
Grandmother Jo reached in and pulled out a small velvet box. She opened it to reveal a medal. “This is the Purple Heart medal awarded to your Grandfather Thomas, who fought in World War II,” she explained. “He was wounded on D-Day.”
Christopher proudly held the medal in his hands. Grandfather must have been very brave, he thought. Grandmother Jo took a picture from the chest and showed it to Christopher. It was Grandfather Thomas. He looked handsome and brave dressed in his soldier uniform.
Now Grandmother Jo took another photograph out of the treasure chest. “This is my wedding picture,” she explained. She pointed to the handkerchief she was holding in the picture and pulled one from the chest. “And this is the same handkerchief that I had that day when we went to the temple to be married. My mother and grandmother used it for their weddings too. The lace was crocheted by my grandmother.”
Even though it looked old, Christopher knew it must be a priceless possession to Grandmother Jo.
Next, Christopher’s grandmother showed him a gold ring set with a ruby. “Your grandfather first wore this ring when he was on his mission,” she explained. “And then your father wore it during his mission too. Would you like to wear it on your mission?”
Christopher’s eyes widened. “I sure would,” he replied. “Can I try it on my finger now?” The ring was too big, but Grandmother Jo assured him that he would grow into it.
This is a real treasure, he decided, and not just because it’s made of gold with a ruby stone. He imagined himself wearing a white shirt and a dark suit. And there on my finger will be the ring!
Something momentarily caught the light when Grandmother Jo showed Christopher a miniature Eagle Scout pin that she had received from Christopher’s dad when he became on Eagle Scout. “Oh, I was proud of him as he stood so straight and tall to accept the award. Then he gave me the pin and kissed me.”
How happy Grandmother Jo looks, Christopher thought. When pirates found their treasures, they were very happy, but not in the same way that Grandmother Jo is right now.
Grandmother Jo explained that this chest held wonderful memory treasures. “And because they are so dear to me, I want to share them with you,” she told Christopher. “These are my people, and I belong to them. And so do you!”
Her face beamed and she chuckled as she showed Christopher a picture of a big white horse harnessed to a cart. In the driver’s seat sat a girl dressed in old-fashioned clothes. “This is your Great-Great-Grandmother Alice, who won every race she entered with this horse and cart! The roughest, toughest boys were always challenging Grandmother Alice to a race, but she was the winner every time!” Grandmother Jo said. “She practiced hard, loved her horse, and treated it with kindness. She was so careful about its feeding, watering, and brushing that it would do anything for her.”
Christopher smiled as he imagined riding along with his Great-Great-Grandmother Alice as she won a race.
Grandmother Jo looked at Christopher and wondered if he could see that these treasures were worth more than any silver or gold. She hoped that he saw that they were symbols of bravery, kindness, and devotion.
Next from the chest came a beautiful watch. The case was of shining gold, and it swung back and forth from a gold chain in his grandmother’s hand. “My Great-Grandfather Charles was a pioneer policeman and bodyguard to Brigham Young,” Grandmother Jo told Christopher. “He always wore this watch in his vest pocket.”
Christopher looked at a photograph of his great-great-great-grandfather. He has a handsome beard, he decided. I like his eyes … so kind and loving. Christopher held the watch and pushed a little lever. The face cover popped open so he could see the hands. How many times did my great-great-great-grandfather open this watch? he wondered.
The clock on the mantel chimed, and both Grandmother Jo and Christopher were surprised that the time had passed so quickly.
Christopher’s eyes were shining as he remembered his different ancestors. They are all my people! he thought with pride.
Grandmother Jo had more treasures in her box, but it was time for Christopher to go home. “Would you like to come again and find out more about my memory chest?” she asked.
They made a date for the next week. He told his grandmother that he would like to visit with her every week—and not just for hot bread and jam.
Christopher enjoyed hearing stories of the family members Grandmother Jo had told him. He felt that they were almost like old friends.
Grandmother always said that friends were a treasure! What fun it will be, he thought, to find out more about my family! Maybe I can make my own treasure box. If I start now, it might fill a whole room someday!