My grandmother had a little pot of beaded flowers on her kitchen table; it was charming and iconic in my childhood memories. I remember sitting at that table with my cousins, eating our fancy grapefruits together. Secretly, I coveted that little arrangement but tragically it was lost in the sweep of my grandmother house and sold by my uncle, years later. There are still wounded feelings about this wholesale clearance of her home and one of the things I mourned was the loss of that little artifact. Sometimes a little bobble can capture an experience or memory.
Years later, I mentioned how much I loved that little thing to my cousin Kate. I tried to recreate this little craft item – French beading, but the project never got off the ground. This was a project that was too ambitious for me to do on my own and so went to the wayside. However, Cousin Kate found another is her thrifting and gifted it to me. I was charmed by this little item even more so than the original because this one required thoughtfulness and effort way beyond the scope of the original. It also bonded us again in the shared memory of our childhood and then again as adults.
I found that little pot of beaded flowers in my cupboards last week when I was putting away my china. That’s the value of memorabilia and mementoes; they capture a memory and send us right back to that place and time.
I don’t have macaroni necklaces from my kids- but I do have the plastic bead bracelet one of them made in grade school. One of my children also drew me a rainbow with his chubby little hand that I still have. His brother did some art class photos of his little brother which although amateurish, I still treasure. One glance at these small items and I am swept back to that time when then were small enough for me to hug at will and their checks were smooth as peaches- not the manly grit of adulthood. When I open my memorabilia boxes- the memories flood me and infuses me with joy.
There are some rules I follow when dealing with memorabilia.
• Keep the good stuff, if you want
• Not everyone will want your mother’s Hummels- its ok to donate
• Others enjoy their memorabilia differently, withhold judgement
• Have a place to see/ enjoy your keepsakes
• Weed memorabilia vigorously- not everything is of archival quality
• Weed on a regular basis, annually if possible
• Contain your treasures in boxes and have a place to store them
• Hand off memorabilia when your kids have kids and homes of their own
• Admit that some of this is for you- call this the Mommy/Daddy box
• Engage the kids to make/keep their own memory boxes and limit amount
• Keep the yearbooks until the 30-year-old kid says no thank you
• Your memories are not theirs- childhood/ high school is not always great
• Photos are a challenge- keep the best, dispose of the rest
• Box photos by year, make a photo album for each kid, label the photos
• Make a digital record of your favorites; it will be handy at your memorial
I love memorabilia when it’s manageable; anything beyond that is a burden. Also, if you have a picture of your little ones in their Halloween costumes- it’s ok to donate the costumes. Be judicious in your collection. Enjoy your memorabilia, but don’t let it overwhelm your present or future. Give your memorabilia its rightful place and space.