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A tisket, a tasket

April 13, 2010

Last weekend, Jack carried my Easter basket for the first time. I decorated it (not nearly so well as our mother used to do with forsythia, straw and tiny chicks with wire legs that could perch on the rim). It is small, rectangular, sturdy and two-of-a-kind; my sister has one just like it. Our dad made them.

That’s one of the things he does. He weaves Shaker-style baskets – cheese baskets, fruit baskets, pie baskets, flower baskets, market baskets, orchard baskets – from thick strips of split white oak.

At home (when I’m living in my own) we keep spatulas and wooden spoons in a spoon basket; we sort bills in mail basket. I store Jack’s favorite books and my favorite New Yorkers in magazine baskets. We fill deep round baskets with his toys.

When D and I married, my cousin and flower girl carried an egg basket with a ribbon-wrapped handle. When we brought Jack home,  he spent his first three months sleeping in a sheepskin-lined basket that had slept my two youngest siblings.

In elementary school, each of us gave a basket to our teacher for Christmas. By the time we were all out of sixth grade, a least three of the teachers had collected five.

My mother can weave if she wants to: Once she made a basket so big that I can remember being too small to climb into it.

We weren’t strangers to sitting in baskets. My dad’s marketing strategy for Bob’s Baskets was a tri-fold flier picturing all five kids holding or being held by baskets whose dimensions and prices he hand-printed. He’d use scissors and printed photographs to make cutouts, old school yearbook-style, and then take the whole operation to Kinko’s.

All of this has kept Easter, a basket-loving holiday, close to home. We hunt for eggs hidden appropriately for a family that left adolescence behind years go – as of today, five eggs from last weekend are still unaccounted for. After three days, I stopped looking. As my mom pointed out, she and the weed eater will find them eventually.

Eventually is also when I’ve always planned to learn to make baskets (One day when I grow muscles is when my dad, whose name is not Bob, plans to teach me. White oak weaving isn’t for the weak, which is to say it isn’t for me.). As family businesses go, this one’s fairly low maintenance (his philosophy goes something like: “If I advertised, I’d just have to make more baskets.”).

It’s that sentiment and work ethic that leads me to order baskets as gifts and then keep them, somewhat anxiously, for myself. I live in fear of the last basket.

(There are no synonyms, by the way, for basket.)

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2010 3:32 am

    I love baskets, I think they look so sweet used in every day ways. What treasures! Hope your dad continues the practice 🙂 If he ever wants a reason to make more, let me know!

  2. April 13, 2010 5:12 am

    What a wonderful family tradition! Maybe Jack will learn one day … Jack’s Baskets has a nice ring to it. =>

  3. April 13, 2010 10:49 am

    Jack slept in a basket for 3 months? How precious!!! Gotta love the baskets!

  4. April 13, 2010 12:22 pm

    That picture of Jack sleeping in the basket is precious! I love the idea of family heirlooms coming in the form of every day objects; it must be so nice to think about Jack’s kids someday using that Easter basket too.

  5. April 13, 2010 12:38 pm

    Oh my the picture of Jack in the basket is so sweet. My mother is a huge basket lover, there is not a room in her house that does not have a basket and they are all in use. She even carries a pocketbook that is a basket.
    It awesome that you your dad makes them.

  6. April 13, 2010 12:52 pm

    I think you might think I’m a little stalker-ish, but I just about jumped out of my skin when I saw Jack wrapped up in the blanket in the basket. That’s the same set that we used for Asher’s nursery, and I have been wishing that I had ordered one more blanket to use for curtains in his room. I’m generally not a super “matchy matchy” person, but for whatever reason I have been really wishing that his curtains matched his bedding. New mom brains being what they are, I completely spaced the name of the print other than it’s Dwell Studio for Target and no longer made. So here’s the question…is there any chance at all that you remember the name of that animal print set? Once I know that, I can start hunting around ebay etc. And finally, I love the baskets, what a lovely family tradition!! 🙂

  7. April 13, 2010 3:49 pm

    Hi – so glad to have stumbled on your blog. I love your family tradition of baskets. And those pictures are absolutely precious!

  8. April 13, 2010 8:00 pm

    I LOVE baskets — to the point where my husband had to BAN them from the house. But if you learn to WEAVE them, you can blog about it and I can LEARN. Get going! Start with the biceps curls!

  9. April 14, 2010 1:30 am

    I love the symbolism of the basket, so perfectly captured by your photo of tiny baby Jack in his. What a wonderful family tradition.

    We live in Amish country and I love watching the kids weave at the farmers’ market while their moms sell their finished products.

  10. April 14, 2010 8:27 pm

    I love the image of these baskets. How beautiful.

  11. April 20, 2010 4:42 pm

    I loved our Moses basket – but it wasn’t nearly as lovely (or meaningful) as yours! My dad plays the banjo and he is really, really hoping one of his grandkids will inherit his large collection of banjos one day…

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