My future husband and I walked the beach together in Okinawa with our hands clasped as we soaked each other in after months of separation thanks to the stop loss of 2003. The waves rolled and fell back around our feet among the many sea shells that littered the beach. I mentioned to him that I thought the purple ones were the prettiest and he let go of my hand and scoured the beach for them like they were pieces of valuable treasure among the sand. Every time he found one he proudly presented it to me with a small smile and went back to find another, moving the sand around with his bare feet and bending down to pick up the shell and dust it off. I kept them safe on the long airplane ride home back to the states and put them in a small corked jar with wheat etched into it that used to hold small pastel-colored bath oil balls.
Our children began presenting me pretty rocks since they were small, toddling around the yard and finding treasures around the ordinary dirt, their small grubby hands showing me the shiny pebble they’d found that they thought I’d like. It touched my heart that they’d give me their treasures and even tried to find a special rock just for me, and just like the sea shells from Okinawa, I kept them all and never threw them back to the ground when they weren’t looking. I would put them in my pocket or stash them in my purse, but I soon found myself having too many rocks to keep in my purse and my pockets were overflowing. I started to put my treasures in an old candle jar on my dresser, the big kind with a lid that I bought from Walmart. Everything they gave me, I put into my treasure jar.
Throughout the years, seashells have been added from our trips to the beach, strings of beads for a necklace, a plastic jack-o-lantern ring that was saved especially for me from the loot of a trick-or-treat haul, a heart-shaped rock, and more recently a couple of Pokemon cards. But mostly small rocks and pebbles, most of them small and smooth white ones but also green-flecked ones and speckled sparkly rocks.
These treasures have filled up the old jar and soon filled up another re-purposed small candle jar. My cup was really filling over with blessings and I needed a larger container to hold all the love that is represented in those rocks, seashells, and tokens. I finally went to Walmart and bought a large glass jar that holds all my treasures with some room to spare.
I actually have two treasure jars now: the big one that holds my treasures gifted to me from my kids and the small one that holds those shells from that day, many years ago in Okinawa. That small little jar is in the hutch in our bedroom and our children every so often ask me if they can count the shells in the jar. So I let them take the jar out and they count the shells that are in there and I tell them the story about how their dad picked those shells out especially for me on a beach far away. What I don’t mention to them is how similar their expressions are to their dad’s when they gift me the treasures they find.