The Quilt

It was my first day of first grade. We had just moved into a new house, which meant that I was going to a new school. I stood by the front door, hair pulled back in clips, holding my Strawberry Shortcake lunch box so my mom could take my picture.

The Strawberry Shortcake lunch box. It was pink and white gingham with Strawberry Shortcake on the top. It was not metal; it was soft plastic, and I can still smell the scent of the it. I wouldn’t let my sisters touch it, and I was so excited to carry it to school that day. I had a quarter inside of the lunch box to buy milk. When lunch time rolled around, I didn’t know that I would be given a choice between regular milk and chocolate milk – I went with regular milk because I was afraid I would get in trouble if I bought chocolate milk.

The milk itself was not ice cold; it was barely cold. I didn’t know how to open the carton and one of the “lunch ladies” had to help me. The little straw was such a treat that I didn’t even mind that the milk wasn’t cold.

New school, new teacher (Mrs. Williams), new friends…the weirdest part of the day was having to sit next to a boy in class. A boy named Chris, whom I ended up going to school with all the way through high school, and thanks to Facebook, I still chat with occasionally.

Chris and I had an on again/off again relationship all the way through elementary school. I was his girlfriend, and then I wasn’t. And then I was again. When we were in second grade, he came to my birthday party and gave me a gold necklace with a little charm on it. I don’t remember what the charm was, but I do remember dropping the necklace down the sink and being so sad to have lost it.

The dress I had on that first day of school I had picked out by myself. Maybe at Kmart? Mervyns? I thought it was so pretty and I loved it. If I spun around quickly, the skirt poofed out, and it made me feel like a princess. It had a little flowered vest that tied in the middle, and when I got nervous, I rubbed the ends of the bow between my fingers.

I loved that dress, and still do. I didn’t know it, but my mom had put that dress away…that little blue flowered dress that should’ve went to my sisters as a hand-me-down. When I was in my 20’s, my Nana, who passed away last year, presented me with a gift. She had taken my little dress that I wore on my first day of school and made a quilt square out of it and framed it.

At the time, I didn’t appreciate the gift as much as I do now, and I put it away somewhere in a box in the garage, not taking care of it properly. Today, the frame is falling apart and I need to have it reframed…it’s on my never-ending “To Do” list, but that quilt square is one of the most important possessions that I have.

This post was written for The Red Dress Club’s memoir writing prompt for RemembeRED: Write a memoir piece about kindergarten.

Also…what do you think of my new look? It’s much more me and I love it! It’s still under construction, so bear with me while I work out the kinks and get settled in 🙂


  1. First of all, I love the new look... WAY more you feeling. Even though I liked the old monster too. :) Have fun getting acquainted and making it your own. Second, I love that your grandmother made that you that frame and knew how special that dress made you feel. I hate the never ending To Do list... here's hoping you get that quilt hung on your wall sometime soon.
  2. The new site is looking very nice. So glad you switched to wordpress. Quilts made out of favorite clothing is such a great idea. I have seen a lot of t-shirt quilts, but never a dress one. Very cute and very special.
  3. That is a beautiful memory, and a lovely quilt square. You brought me right back to the fears and anxieties and newness of primary school. Right down to the precious lunch box and the imagined guilt over choosing chocolate milk in the caff. And I LOVE the new monster and twins (especially the twins, whom I imagine are giving me some version of The Business, with their squiggly mouth and one eye!)
  4. I always think that sometimes we're too young to appreciate what we're given...but at least you saved it, what a wonderful memory! My gram gave me a handwritten book of all her reciped when I didn't cook, and now I'm like phew, I have it... and I love the looke, very clean and super cute, with all your little monsters there... but if I may say one thing, and don't think I'm a B-the pink is a little hard to read on the blue tabs...
  5. First I love your new digs, they are perfect. Fun colors, adorable 'monsters" and a feeling of "play". I actually squealed in delight when I saw it last name and now I am subscibed so if u post..I read!!!! Win/Win :) Oh this post..what a great way to remeber, all those little things, the nuances of that first day and year in 1st grade. I enjoyed reading it and love the framed piece your grandma gave u. It's true that 'our treasures' are often things that we take for granted at first...but become the things that tie us to our past later on. I'm just glad u still have it and the memories that go with it. Xo
  6. I love that they did that for you. It made me tear up just a bit.
  7. What a sentimental piece! That is awesome that you have part of that dress. I LOVE your new look. It's so fun!!
  8. What a beautiful gift! And the new look is GREAT!!!!
  9. Oh, that is so sweet!!!! I love stuff like that!!! I hope you get it reframed soon!
  10. What a sweet thing for your mother to keep the dress and for your grandmother to make it into something special. Moms are awesome! And, LOVE the new look!
  11. LOVE the new look! It's very fresh & modern :) How incredibly special that your grandma made that quilt square for you - so many memories in that small square of fabric. The little details you remember are perfect here, especially the part about rubbing the ends of the vest.
  12. Lovely post! And as a man, your memory scares me. My wife has a memory like that too, so when I say/do stupid things, I know she'll never forget. Btw, love the redesign. Is this Wordpress?
  13. Love the new look! Also, this post was just darling. I loved dresses and Strawberry Shortcake too. I was obsessed with my Strawberry Shortcake roller skates. And it's amazing how our fist memories of boys are so vivid.
  14. Oh this makes me cry - I have quilt squares my mom straightend out for me from a quilt I had at the same age my GREAT-Grandma made. My never ending to-do list is to have them framed.
  15. That quilt is such a sweet gift! I had a Strawberry Shortcake dress that I loved like that...and apparently, my mother just gave it to one of my nieces. SIGH. I LOVE your new look! :)
  16. LOVE your new look. THe big green monster and the two little pinks. Awesome design, Mommy, I love it.
  17. Love this story, brought back so many memories. I remember the room temperature milk so well and Strawberry Shortcake and those lunch boxes. Thanks for reminding me of so many things. And one more time... LOVE the new look!
  18. That just made me tear up. That is the most darling idea!
  19. Wow - what a truly great gift . . . one of the rare items that grows in importance each & every day that passes.
  20. what a wonderful keepsake! and love the new look :)
  21. What a wonderful story. Your memory is so vivid, and the details you provide make the story so real. I really like how you began with a photo showing the actual dress you wore. It makes the description come to life. Milk and boyfriends is a nice touch, and a picture of the quilt ties the title into the story. You really kept my interest, and I could relate to the luke cool milk. Nice job my frind. You are a talented writer.
  22. Love the new look. Like the old, but the new is for your next phase in life. Isn't is amazing what we end up treasuring? I did this for my daughter's first drawings. It's not the most beautiful of quilts to anyone, but us. Put getting a new frame on the top of your list.
  23. Natalie...what an amazing gift to have been given by your grandma. Those are the kinds of gifts I totally treasure. I definitely think I had a version of that strawberry shortcake lunch box, I loved it! I had the plasic doll as well and I she smelled like strawberries!
  24. How do you remember all that? I wish I did. That quilt might just be one of the best gifts I've ever heard about. Love it.
  25. I love the smell of the first day of school! New clothes, new books! Your blOg looks awesome!!! So great!!
  26. I have a blanket that my grandmother crocheted for me - and I should really take better care of it. Thanks for this post - it was really nice.
  27. Wow, your memories are so vivid! And I love the little dress...and the memory of the charm necklace. So sweet..
  28. Love the new look and this post. I always wanted dresses that puffed out if you twirled. The little girl across the street had a yellow one. I was so jealous. Meanwhile, her home life was not all that great but I was a child and knew nothing about such things, or how lucky I was. There was an innocence to that time you captured perfectly. Love it.
  29. Great blog redesign! Looks awesome.
  30. I love the design of your space! It matches the "monster party" party theme we picked for my 2yo's birthday party this weekend.
  31. I had that exact same Strawberry Shortcake soft lunchbox. I believe mine also came with a thermos, which I rarely used. I love the grin in the photo, it says it all. Also, I love the new look! Such a priceless gift, it's funny how what we hold dear changes as we age.
  32. GrammaGramma says:
    Natalie....I like the new look...incorporated your beautiful twins into it! Maybe it should be 3 little monsters? (just kidding of course). I remember that dress and how much you loved it!
  33. Love the new look--it's loads of fun. What a great memory and a beautiful post. The quilt is wonderful.


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