Yesterday we were going though my bedroom and reorganizing things. I said to my son "Please hand me that sweater on my hope chest" and he looked at me confused so I pointed to it and he handed it to me saying "What's a hope chest?"
I explained the concept of a trousseau to him and that this particular chest had been passed down through generations to me. I told him about all the things my mother first collected for my future home. The very first item that went in, hand embroidered linens done by my great-grandmother before she passed when I was 5. My first edition to the chest I chose was after his father and I were engaged when I purchased our first set of china and placed it into the chest. The final pieces were given at my bridal shower, a handmade quilt made by my grandmother, her last as she was already suffering with dementia. The other was a recipe book made by all those in attendance and those who could not come, all sharing precious family recipes - my very favorite of what they made.
He asked me if boys got to have one and I giggled and said, "No, they're for girls honey." I talked with him a bit about the things he had brought to our marriage, securing a home for us to live in as well as some furniture. Then he asked if his future wife would have one and I explained that very few families filled hope chests by the time I got married and it was very likely her family would not have one for her either.
He thought for a moment and then said, "So that's why you give me useful things for gifts." I told him yes. I also told him that as he settled on a bride someday that I would find out if her family had prepared for her being married and if not that our family would help provide some of the things they would need together. In the meantime, we would do our best to help him be ready with the things a man traditionally brings to a marriage so they are not scrambling for everything they need. We would encourage him to live on his own before he seeks a bride so he can support her and know how to manage the finances of a household and know if he can support a family or not. We would help him learn how to take care of his family and cherish them as God wanted him to.
He accepted that and went on with his day. Then today I noticed he'd taken a bag and set it to the side in his room. When I asked him what he was doing he said, "I'm starting a bag for when I get married." In there he had some of the tools we have given him, his Rosary from his Confirmation, and a few other little odds and ends that would be useful in running a home.
So I came to sit here tonight and ponder - do you talk about these things with your children? Do you plan to prepare them for married/consecrated life? Were you prepared like this by your family or was I truly the last of my generation?