I came across a page I had torn out of an old Parade magazine from 2018 about the things we keep that hold memories for us. What We Keep: 150 People Share the One Object That Brings Them Joy, Magic, and Meaning, by Bill Shapiro and Naomi Wax was the subject of the article which highlighted objects of importance to several famous people and why those objects saved good memories for them.
I don’t consider myself a hoarder, but of things that hold memories, maybe I am. Why else would I have held onto this article for four years, thinking I would write about this topic?
Maybe what took me so long to address the topic is that I can’t nail down just one object like the authors of this book asked people to do. Goodness! I have a house full of things I am not willing to part with because they are significant to my life, and it just doesn’t seem right to toss them away. Just thinking about them and the thought of losing them is making me tear up as I type!
I suppose I inherited the trait. Consider the story I wrote about my sister Louise’s trunk, “Love as Strong as a Horse,” January 16, 2018. Mother was also sentimental and had a hard time disposing of things that held memories for her.
I wrote about my old, fragile nativity set that comes out every Christmas in “A Christmas Nativity Memory,” December 16, 2021. Then there is the story about the dependable, useful Coca-Cola dolly that I associate with my daddy,”The Coca-Cola Dolly,” January 16, 2022. The little heavy dog weight my grandmother used to hold down material when she sewed is featured in “Grandmother’s Buffet,” February 25, 2010. I wrote about AJ using Daddy’s deer rifle on his hunts, “the Deer Hunt,” December 1, 2010. I wrote about reading to Mother from the copy of Gone with the Wind she gave Daddy as a birthday present back in 1940, “Reading to My Mother,” May 9, 2012. I guess all of the things I talked about in “Cowgirl Things,” January 30, 2022, would qualify because I still have them all, and they are important to me. And the list goes on. I write about these things because they are, truly, near and dear to my heart.
The list also goes on of things near and dear to my heart that I have not written about. Like Louise’s piggy bank. I’m not sure I think of her every time I look at it, but it makes me smile and feel a certain amount of comfort from seeing him sitting there on the counter, so she must come to mind.
At the bottom of my ironing/mending basket I came across the stuffed Greenie dog toy that belonged to Daphne who loved Greenies. Daphne is gone, and it doesn’t seem right to let other dogs chew on it, so I mended it, and there it sits on the sewing machine to remind me of her.
I still have the old handmade doll Grandmother Drum made for me. She made the whole thing, hair, shoes, and all. Even embroidered the face of the doll. She is sitting in my little child’s size rocking chair, which may have been mine after Louise outgrew it. Caroline and AJ rocked in it, and now I have it for my great-granddaughter to rock in when she gets here.
I still have this little metal refrigerator bank Mother said was given to Daddy and her when they bought their first refrigerator. The idea was to collect loose change in it that would help with the monthly payment of their brand new Electrolux appliance. She held onto it all those years, and it was then passed on to me as a memento.
I have no idea how many of these items will be deemed memory makers and important enough to be kept by my children when I am gone, And I wonder what family treasures, as well as things they have come to value that are personal memories from their own lives, that they will consider significant enough to keep that will bring comforting thoughts, history, and memories to them. At some point we all run out of room, and everything can’t be kept, but I hope they save some things that are a part of the family legacy that will remain with the family.
So I encourage you to look around and see what items bring you joy, magic, and meaning.
And never apologize for keeping them.
Shapiro, Bill, and Naomi Wax. What We Keep: 150 People Share the One Object that Brings Them Joy, Magic, and Meaning. Philadelphia: Running Press, 2018.