Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About Keepsakes September 27, 2010

Robin started a lively discussion on our site about “What do you do with hand-me-downs?” And it got me thinking…about the boxes of stuff in my basement.

My mom lost all of her scrapbooks, yearbooks, and even her wedding album in a flood three years before I was born. On any given milestone event, Mom would get misty-eyed and wish she could share her precious mementos with me and my siblings. And so, I became a diligent chronicler of all things scrap: programs, cards, certificates, studio portraits, snapshots. Someday, I knew, I’d want to share all of these with my daughter.

Well, I’m not going to have a daughter. And now all those carefully assembled keepsakes mock and taunt me. Should I throw them out? Burn them? Wait until they’ve rotted in mildew and let someone else haul them away when I’m dead?

What will you do with your treasures, your family heirlooms, your precious hand-me-downs?

I hope you’ll join our discussion.

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Her articles have appeared in AAA’s Westways, GRIT, Real Simple, and 805 Living magazines. Read “How to Be the World’s Best Aunt Ever” on eHow.com. “It Got Me Thinking…” will be Kathleen’s regular guest column.

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7 Responses to “It Got Me Thinking…About Keepsakes”

  1. Soapchick Says:

    I will give them to my nieces and nephew. I am very close with them and they are teenagers to young adults now. They’ve also committed to taking care of me when I’m an old lady – haha.

  2. monica Says:

    I have this very same situation. I was chosen to keep a lot of the family pictures and heirlooms, but who do I pass them on to..or give them to? My MIL once gave us a desk that she use to use to do homework on as a child and now we have it mostly out of guilt that it would rot. When I looked at her and said with tears in my eyes “but we have no one to pass it on to” she simply said…give it to someone you care about.
    So we are currently planning on giving things to nieces and nephews or whomever we chose.

  3. happynenes Says:

    I think the chronicles of my life, like photos of my cats and scrapbooks of my college trip to Europe, I will enjoy during my life and I guess they will get thrown out after. And that’s okay.

    One thing really breaks my heart, though. My dad builds fine furniture. He has built me many beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces full loving detail. Not only that, my parents have a home and a vacation condo filled with his beautiful furniture. It makes me want to cry to think of any of his pieces being sold to people who won’t know what they are and won’t care for them. I like the idea of giving them to friends I love. Friends of my dad who he loved, too, maybe. That’s the only thing I can think to do with them when I die.

    Jeez, you guys, this is making me cry. Really, is this sadness about mourning our own mortality and the mortality of our loved ones?

  4. Kathleen Guthrie Says:

    Furniture! Aack! I have pieces my great-grandfather carved by hand. Geez, I’ve never before really thought about this aspect of being child-free. It’s partly about the beautiful pieces, but mostly about the history that gets lost. ….This sucks.

  5. Mali Says:

    My nieces and nephews will get them. I’m not worried about most things – they’re only things, and important to me but maybe noone else. I have an heirloom piano though – almost 100 years old – my greatgrandmother imported it from England. I hope it stays in the family.

  6. lmanterfield Says:

    I really hadn’t thought about this topic until it came up on the forums. I guess I will make sure that family heirlooms I have (like my mum’s eternity ring) go to someone else in the family, but who’s going to laugh at my pictures when I’m gone?

    Happenenes, I wonder if this sadness comes from the fear of being forgotten? Oh, God! I’m not helping at all am I?

  7. loribeth Says:

    This is one aspect of being childless that does bother me. Particularly the stuff relating to my personal past & my family. I can’t expect my two nephews (dh’s brother’s sons) to take a huge interest in that. I’m planning to pass along relevant photos & stuff that belonged to my grandparents to my cousins’ children. But there’s a lot of stuff that I know won’t mean very much to anyone outside my immediate family. And that makes me sad.


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