Grandma’s Giant Box

This Christmas brought lots of gifting joy The Six-Year-Old’s way, but the present she enjoyed the most wasn’t actually for her.

It was for Grandma, and it came in the largest box that The Six-Year-Old had ever seen.

Can you blame her? How can you not want to know what's in that box? (Photo: Shala Howell)

The Six-Year-Old was determined to find out what was in Grandma’s Giant Box before Grandma opened it Christmas morning, and devoted a great deal of time trying to entice her Grandpa into telling her.

Direct inquiries, bare-faced suppositions, and affectionate wheedling all were in vain. Grandpa held firm. No one but him would know what was in Grandma’s Giant Box until Grandma opened it herself.

At supper time that evening with only two sleeps to go before Christmas morning, a disappointed but undaunted The Six-Year-Old made a general announcement: “I’m getting up really early tomorrow. I have a lot of very important things to do.”

Mommyo, curiously: “Like what?”

The Six-Year-Old: “I need to ask Grandpa what’s in that big box for Grandma while he’s still groggy.”

True to her word, The Six-Year-Old climbed up onto the couch next to Grandpa first thing Christmas Eve morning. She flipped through her dinosaur coloring book casually.

The Six-Year-Old, artfully: “Grandpa, if you will tell me what’s in that big box, you can pick any one of these dinosaur pictures and I will trace it for you.”

Grandpa: “I’m not groggy enough for that.”

The Six-Year-Old tossed aside her coloring book and ran into the kitchen where her Grandma was making a cup of coffee.

The Six-Year-Old, in a stage whisper: “Grandma, Grandpa will not tell me. We need a new plan.”

In the end, none of The Six-Year-Old’s plans worked. Not even the ones cooked up by Grandma.

The Six-Year-Old found out what was in Grandma’s Giant Box along with the rest of us, on Christmas morning.

Since the secret’s out now, I’ll tell you. It was the largest suitcase any of us had ever seen (except Grandpa, who claimed there were two or three much larger in the store).

Mommyo, admiringly: “Wow, The Six-Year-Old. I think that suitcase might just be large enough to fit you. Do you think Grandma would let us take her Very Large Suitcase home if we promised to mail it back with you in it?”

The Six-Year-Old, curiously: “How long would that take?”

Mommyo: “Two or three days if we sent you priority mail. Longer if we used parcel post.”

The Six-Year-Old, practically: “What if I get hungry?”

Mommyo, airily: “Bah. There’s plenty of room in there for two, maybe even three days’ worth of provisions.”

The Six-Year-Old: “What about books? I would need a lot of books. And Tigery.”

Mommyo, excitedly: “Oh, books! We could send you book rate. That’s even cheaper! Bit slower though, so you might need five days’ worth of snacks. I don’t know if your pajamas would fit. ”

The Six-Year-Old, carefully: “Mommyo, we’re just pretending, right?”

Mommyo, reassuringly: “Of course, The Six-Year-Old. I would never mail you. It hasn’t been legal to mail kids in the U.S. since 1920.”

A mail carrier poses with a child in his mailbag for a photograph illustrating the new regulations against shipping children parcel post. Although kids generally fell under the 50 lbs guideline for parcel post, the Postmaster General determined that children did not fall under the "bugs and bees" classification that limited the types of fauna that could be sent through the US mail. (Photo & background info on it via the Smithsonian's public domain Flickr stream.)

A mail carrier poses with a child in his mailbag for a 1920 photograph illustrating the new regulation against shipping children parcel post. Although kids generally fell under the 50 lbs guideline for parcel post, the Postmaster General determined that children did not classify as “bugs and bees” — the only types of fauna that could be legally sent through the US mail. (Photo & background info on it via the Smithsonian’s public domain Flickr stream.)

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
This entry was posted in Funny Stuff My Daughter Says. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Grandma’s Giant Box

  1. bobraxton says:

    best present ever for our grandkid has been Imagination box: consists of rope, string, man’s tie, cardboard tube (from inside roll of wrapping paper), stick, “box” – just add Imagination). These remain at our (grandparents) house and this is the favorite playing (imagination play) each visit.


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