Today I went to a shop/warehouse in the next suburb as I'd seen their ad in the local paper which claimed they had all the packaging ideas needed to handle Christmas. As I'm planning to give some homecooked gifts this year, I was thrilled to find some very cute cardboard boxes and some cellophane bags. I bought 2 boxes which were very 'Christmassy' and a pack of 10 plain white boxes with little clear windows. I'm going to decorate the plain ones with some Christmas stickers I later bought at one of 'the cheap shops' (Bargain City) I also bought some Christmas ribbons with which to tie up the boxes when they are filled with brandy truffles, choc nut slice, fruit slice, old English matrimonials etc. I have never ever made shortbread and it's a traditional Xmas thing...I keep thinking it's difficult but people tell me otherwise. Maybe I need to find a recipe and 'have a go'.
Well anyway, on the way home from buying these boxes and other things I started thinking about the 'boxes' of my childhood...wooden fruit boxes! My dad worked as a fruiterer and my godparents had a stone fruit orchard and a vineyard...we were surrounded by boxes! There seemed to be 2 sizes that I can remember and the smaller one was probably about 2foot 6in by about 10inches and probably about 12 inches high. We had lots of this size at home and I used them to make dolls' houses, cubby houses , play tables and seats, storage bins etc. The larger cases were wider and higher and my parents made a makeshift storage cupboard in the old laundry under the house, by nailing some of these larger boxes together on their side. A quick search on the internet before revealed that those old fruit boxes are now worth money being sought after by collectors of all things old. Fruit has been packed in cardboard boxes for years now and I'm wondering whether some time in the future these boxes will become collectables too! It would mean some new packaging would have to come in.
Each year my family would go to the seaside for 2 weeks holiday. The cat would come too in his 'pet carrier'. You guessed it! he travelled in one of the larger fruit boxes. There were flat strips of timber which were the top of these boxes. To remove the fruit these slats would be levered up. When the cat was put in the empty box, the slats would be nailed into place for the short journey, and then the top would be levered off again.
My dad was a keen fisherman as well and often went fishing with friends who had boats. He carried his fishing gear in an old wooden box which had originally had bottles of brandy packed in it. (I don't think my dad got the box until it was empty!lol) His friends had fancy cane fishing tackle baskets but dad loved the box as it did the job. When my parents bought my childhood home it had some furniture left in it. One item was like a stool which had a padded seat with fabric gathered around the seat which went to the floor. Years later, we took the fabric off and what should be underneath...? a wooden brandy box!!
When my husband and I sometimes talk about our childhoods when people were frugal and quite ingenious at re-using and recycling my husband usually reminds me that most people did not have much money; it just wasn't our parents who struggled...and I think he is right.