As I was packing away Christmas items, I wondered what it would be like if boxes had not been invented. I imagine that the first box ever made was a pine box in which to bury a loved one.

My mother always saved boxes for future use. Maybe it is part of the nesting instinct.

Toddlers often are more entranced with the box in which the toy was given than they are with the toy itself.

My first box I remember was an empty cigar box that a friendly storekeeper gave me when I was very young. He also put inside a jawbreaker, some gum and a Mr. Goodbar candy bar, my favorite at the time.

Starting school, I (and many children) was given a pencil box.

Boxes and other containers we purchase these days add to the cost of the items we need. Working for a firm that made waterless hand-cleaner for automotive mechanics and other workers, I learned that the product, selling for about $10, actually only contained about $2 worth of cleaner. How much of our hard-earned cash now goes to the fancy packaging that is usually just tossed into the trash?

How many kitchen cabinets contain the containers that once held Cool Whip? My late mother was the queen of collecting empty boxes and containers. How she would have loved these. Milk can now be purchased in plastic bottles, but in my mother’s day, only glass bottles that were washed and returned to the store were used. She purchased salt and sugar in cloth bags and often used the material for other purposes. Empty shoe boxes made excellent containers for storing old love letters.

We live in a disposable society now. Boxes, once treasured keepsakes, are tossed aside. But my mother taught well; my daughter and I carry on her tradition.