Box of Firsts
Dawn Whittaker's Baby Box
What is your item? This shoebox is my son’s baby box. The things inside here are irreplaceable. This was his first toy and his first pair of shoes, and here is the band that he wore in hospital when he was born. It just makes me remember how tiny he was. He’s 5 foot ten now, 21 years old and plays rugby, so I’m never going to fit him inside this little box again!
And here is his baby memories book, which includes his first photo with Santa and his first footprint. I can't replace these things. Yes, I could photograph them, but it wouldn’t be the same as holding them. As a fire officer the most common things we get asked to save, apart from people and pets are family photographs, people’s ashes – things that capture the memories of people’s loved ones.
Why is this item important to you? I think you unwittingly pass things on to your kids such as what's important in life and what you should really treasure. They aren't necessarily the things that are the most expensive. What has value is subjective and to me this baby box is the most valuable thing.
One very important item in this box is a photograph of my Grandma, who’s no longer with us. This was taken shortly before she had to go into a care home, and it is the only photograph we have of all four of us, which shows four generations of our family.
You know, one day I’ll be in my dotage and I'd like to open this box and relive the fleeting moments of my son being a baby. And if I have grandchildren, I want to share these items with them and say “Look, this was your daddy’s first toy!”
When you hold this item what do you feel? A depth of connection and that I’m a mum. Maybe when my son has a child he may give some of these items to his baby. Actually, when he had his 18th birthday I got this box out and put it besides his birthday cake. He was into body building then, so the cake was an eggbox with a weight beside it. He thought it was great (in a slightly “oh Mum” kind of way) and could remember some of the items.
If this item was destroyed, I’d feel a sense of loss, and although I’d still have my son, there’d be part of a really important memory that was missing. And this box is something that I want to share with his future partner and their children, so that would be a loss if I couldn’t do that. This box reminds me that families have journeys.
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