day 36 – treasure box

When everyone’s patience has worn thin, or for a special treat, let the child pull out ‘the treasure box’. Part of the allure of the treasure box is that it doesn’t come out very often. Its other appeal is that it’s filled with mysterious, quirky things that belong nowhere else. These are small things, things to be investigated and talked through, things that fire the imagination.

The first thing is to find an interesting box. An old confectionery tin is perfect, or you might like to decoupage a shoe box, finishing it with braid and tassels so it looks as if treasure might be found there. Now to find items worthy of a treasure box. You have things around the house already – odd things, broken bits, souvenirs, left-over things, bits of things. Things that twist or turn are especially interesting. The contents will grow over time as you keep an eye out for ‘treasure’. Finally, the box must reside somewhere slightly inaccessible: on top of a wardrobe, under a bed, at the back of a pantry. Ours is behind glass in the ‘library’. What do you call your box? The Odd Box? Mystery Box? The Emporium? Maybe you have multiple boxes; we also have one for Feather Treasure.

Our box has a large, red dice, two tiny dolls, a broken doll hand, an earring, an old playing card, a shilling, a wax stamp, a metal thing for hooking stones out of horses’ hoofs, a metal Ipana toothpaste tube, rolled from the bottom the way we did in the 1980s, and a beautiful key. Every item has a story and is an opportunity to spend quality time with a child. Treasure indeed!

Published by Dr Toni Risson

Dr Toni Risson is a storyteller and a cultural historian who has penned everything from children’s picture books to a PhD on the Magic of Lollies. An expert on the Greek cafe phenomenon, Toni curated Meet Me at the Paragon for the State Library of Queensland, and her latest book, Brisbane’s Greek Cafes: A Million Malted Milks, was a finalist in the 2019 Queensland Literary Awards. Having encountered the elegant Paragon Cafe in Katoomba as a child, Toni developed a fascination with silky oak panelling, bevelled mirrors and Art Deco wall lights long before she understood the stories behind Australia's iconic Greek cafe. She continues to document our lost café culture.

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