Mon, 03 December 2007, 3:20 pm
The holiday buying season sometime in the late 70’s must have been momentous for a clothing company named Leonardo Strassi. One Christmas, my Dad’s family gave too many zippered ski vests, bell-bottom jeans, or wide-collared flower shirts from the same store. These items of good taste were all packaged lovingly within the same kind of black garment box from Leonardo Strassi. When all of these suspicious boxes were retrieved from under the tree, then opened at once, the legend of “The Box” was born into Rzepkowski Family lore.
“The Box” is a bit strange by today’s garment box standards. It is all black, illustrated only by a Unabomber-looking gentleman with a gigolo moustache and some fine sunglasses. It is a thin box that only can contain the slightest of gifts. Underwear? Yes. Sweatshirt? No way! Every Christmas since that time, the Boxes have arrived under the tree. At first, there were some chuckles as Leonardo showed his classic good looks. Then, in the early 80’s the family realized that these boxes were becoming treasured family heirlooms to be passed down from generation to generation. The rule became that the holder of “The Box” must regift it to another family member sometime in the upcoming year. It was used not only for Christmas, but also for Birthdays, anniversaries, and any other momentous life occasion.
So rich became this tradition that my grandmother began inscribing the lid with the giver and receiver of “The Box”, the event, and the date. After 30 years of keeping up this ritual, “The Box” has become a gift in of itself. Opening one provides many minutes of joy as you first feign surprise that you didn’t know what it was, then recite the previous holders of the treasure, and finally let the awesome responsibility of passing it on set in. The younger generation can all recall when we received our first Box.
As legend has it, there are only 4 Boxes left in circulation (no one really knows), each with a colorful history of birthdays, Christmases and anniversaries gone by. The histories reveal new family members, special events, and of course 30 years of Christmas memories. So, this year instead of a Nintendo Wii, or an iPod, a tattered black Box is on the top of my list.
A note to the Rzepkowski clan. If you have more clarity on the details of this story, please leave it in the comments. I submitted this story to a request at the office for holiday traditions. Quite honestly I couldn’t remember all of the details, so this account sounded close enough, but I want to get the record straight
Christmas 2007, a Box returns to the Rzepkowski’s of Webster
As if she were channeling Leo himself, Tricia executed the perfect reveal of the “Box”. This time around, Leo was overstuffed with a fleece sweatshirt which disguised the normally slim form factor. When she tore into the present, the first thing we saw was the Gigolo man staring right back at us. Have a look at the amazing video…