You’re over 50 so I know you’ve collected a few things in your life. You might be like my friend who has saved ticket stubs and playbills from every concert and performance she’s attended, you might have saved every dog collar or your children’s toys, or you might be like me and have some of your children’s artwork, a few of your parent’s items, jewelry or even furniture. There are also the things you’ve collected as well. For example, I have a peace dove necklace that was purchased in 1970 at the San Jose flea market.
The necklace has a story attached to it … everything we collect has a story attached to it, every ticket and playbill of my friends and every dog collar or child’s toy. You see, the things we collect mark our memories. But, and this is the important part, they aren’t our memories. With or without the item, we have our memories.
As you think about simplifying, consider leaving a book of memories. Your family might not be interested now but they, or the next generation, will be curious one day. I have a ceramic bull that was in my home growing up. It’s anatomically correct. (yeah, weird) I would love to know the story behind it, and the conversations it provoked, but I never will.
Our stories die with us. We can change that and simplify at the same time. A book of memories is a way to hold onto the memories, not the items. Not just holding onto them but sharing them. Imagine how free your space will feel when you give some of your things to your kids or grandkids. Don’t be surprised by what they don’t want. When that’s the case, donate!
If you are supporting aging parents, this is a great way for you to honor them and build their legacy. Ask them about the things they’ve surrounded themselves with, and if they’re having to consolidate, offer to create a book of memories for them.
Here is how I am creating mine. It is both on the computer and printed (put together in a binder with sheet protectors). If I get super motivated, I might send it out to be bound into a book, but for now, the important thing is to start recording. An excerpt:
This peace dove necklace was purchased at the San Jose Flea Market in 1970 when I visited with my friend, Gary.
I thought I was the coolest, hippy chick! The reality? I was a 21-year-old mom of a 3-year-old, living a very un-hippy life back in Mundelein, Illinois. (That miniature golf outfit … 100% polyester worn with dark suede Minnetonka moccasins!
But, my heart? Totally hippy chick!
You probably remember some of my favorite music: Woodstock, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Jethro Tull’s Songs from the Wood, Revolution by the Beatles, and artists galore including, Peter, Paul and Mary, Simon and Garfunkel, Joan Baez, John Lennon and George Harrison. That list is endless! And of course, you couldn’t play with toy guns or soldiers and we had tie-dyed tees, black light love posters and India print bedspreads!
(When I put it all together, I’ll add more about Gary, but not for y’all.) 😉
When I no longer wear the necklace, I’ll be able to give it to one of my kids without regret, because the memory will live on in my book. I imagine myself, when I am less able to get out and about, and my space is much smaller, being able to bring out my book of memories. It will make me smile to know that my grandkids won’t wonder where the anatomically correct bull came from because that will be in there too.
What will your book look like? I’d love for you to share a story or two in the comments!