As I was looking for something in my cedar chest recently, my adult daughter walked in to asked a question. Noting all the stuff spread out on the bed and all the items still in the chest, she reached into the chest, lifted a piece of paper and turned it over. It was one of her first art projects from preschool. I thought she’d be pleased that I had saved it. I was surprised and disappointed, however, when she wrinkled her nose and said, “Why on earth did you save that thing, mom?” Well, what was I supposed to say? I told her I’d saved it because it represented a milestone in her life – and I thought she would want to remember that. She laughed, told me to throw it away, and walked out of the room. I was crushed!
This is actually quite typical, though. We all save things that have sentimental value to us, even though, as you can see, they are meaningless to someone else. So what do we do with all of those treasures that we’ve saved ostensibly for our children, but really for ourselves?
Here are a few ideas if you save “important” things, too:
Instead of feeling like you have to save all of your children’s and grandchildren’s artwork or projects, choose a few that are the most meaningful to you. They could be the best ones or the first ones, whatever speaks to you. Place them in a stackable cardboard storage box – you can find these in any number of retail stores. When you have chosen just a few items that you definitely want to save, you can give your child the option of keeping the rest or discarding them.
It could also be fun to create a photo album or scrapbook for each of your children or close relatives or even yourself. Scrapbooks can be fun if you not only have photos, but you also have stories that you want to share. You can easily and creatively weave your stories around the photos and add other clip art or items. There are scrapbooking groups and classes all over the place for novices! Check your local community college and craft shops.
Create a storybook. There are several places online that you can do this with photos and stories about events and/or people. They are great for remembering special events like weddings and family members and pets.
You can save your older paper photos digitally by scanning and organizing them with newer digital photos into different files according to event, date, family member, or whatever works best for you. This way, you can print them whenever you want or share them through email, Facebook, or whatever new social media come along.
Shadow boxes are a great way to save your photos, memorabilia and other collections. You can either build the shadow box yourself or have a professional do it for you. Different shadow boxes could each have their own theme and be different sizes and shapes. You can be very creative and mix various items together to create your memories, such as from a high school, college or pro sport game that might include a team photo, game program, ticket stub, stuffed animal/mascot, t-shirt, game ball, etc. You might even be able to locate newspaper articles about this team to include. You may find that some of these items are quite valuable, too.
Do you have things in your home that you are planning to donate or sell but you want your family to remember? You could create a video tour where you either narrate as you tape, or you could be the star of the video and have someone tape you conducting the tour. You can include anecdotes about certain items, such as the table whose leg was broken several times as a particular child scurried through the house (yes, that would have been me!). You could remind a child about the funny way he or she bumped or slid down the steps before being able to walk. Childhood hiding places, that you swore you never knew about, can be revealed, too. This could be a fun and sentimental way to tell the story of your family home. You could even include other locations, such as a favorite park or schools or church.
You can be as creative as you feel while you reduce your clutter and yet preserve your memories!