musing on momentos

mommabirdSeptember 16, 2010

The post about hoarding, and the High School mugs, has me musing on momentos. I am 46 years old. What I did in HS has very, very little relevance to my life now. Along the years, moves, etc I have gotten rid of all HS moments except yearbooks, photo album and class ring. Ditto for college - only a photo album, yearbooks and sorority paddles. I have never once missed anything I've gotten rid of until now.

My teens think it's cool when their friends wear their parents tshirts from their HS. Yes, these are people in their 40s and 50s that still have tshirts from their HS!!! It is pretty cool, and I do wish I had kept a few thsirts and a few of DH's, but they are long gone.

I had a box of "awards" I have earned over my career - little plaques, marble desk sets, etc. About 2 years ago I decided that those trinkets are not me and don't even represent good work I've done. I made a list of the awards, companies I worked for and dates for future job hunting and JUNKED the junk!

Now here's my delima. I have 3 sons and have tried very hard to limit keeping "momentos" of their childhoods. But even keeping limited momentos, I have about 5 large plastic tubs full, and have 8 more years until the youngest graduates from HS!

Help me out - what should I keep? I don't keep school papers or anything like that. I don't print pictures at all any more - just digital. Trophies go in their rooms on their bookshelves. That still leaves Cub/Boys Scouts awards, sports team pictures and awards, school awards, and misc other stuff.

What do you all keep for your kids?

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Unless it was a special craft for Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc. I didn't keep any of their papers (exceptions below) or drawings. Their trophies stayed in their rooms until they left for college and then I boxed them up. When they moved into their own home, the boxes went with them (not that they knew that until they opened them, lol)

I kept a file of school and medical records or anything I thought might be needed to help them write the essays for college. Examples are newspaper articles they wrote, or when they made the paper, their scouting years, volunteer activities, and really good research papers.

In high school, dd#2 kept all her research papers so she could see the style certain teachers liked and disliked from year to year and she kept every test in a notebook just in case she needed them to review before the SAT's, and she was glad she did.

Right now, I have a banker's box of stuff for each kid, with their baby books, a special item of clothing or two, and those few special art projects or papers. I'll keep them until they have kids and maybe longer. I can store two boxes with no regrets.

A funny about our high school stuff. When dd was in high school, she didn't want to spend the money on a ring she was only going to wear for one year (most kids wouldn't be caught dead wearing their high school ring in college) so she wore mine. No one even noticed.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 12:05AM
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When we moved 2 years ago my then-14-year old son said we could toss those little league trophies and pinewood derby certificates and spelling bee awards (nowadays you get a trophy just for showing up, it's meaningless) and he picked one or two special items to keep. I have one bin of school mementos for each of my two kids, which will probably be pared down again in a few years. The older they get, the less you need every mostest specialistest thing they ever did, LOL. My dd is a college sophomore and we just recently went through a box of high school stuff that seemed so important two years ago, and 90% of it went into the trash. Not her high school mug, ROFL, but she's a more recent grad so that's forgiven. She has no idea what happened to her high school ring, it was lost in the shuffle somewhere.

I wouldn't do anything with that stuff without input from the child, though. To this day my dh whines about his father throwing out all of his army men without asking first, thinking that dh had outgrown them. [eyeroll]

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 9:38AM
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My sister's solution was to issue each child ONE large tub and ONE file drawer in addition to the walls and shelves in their rooms ... what they kept was up to them, but they had to fit it all into the tub. when they went to college, it all had to fit into the tub and drawer.

Set limits now! My housemate's son was occupying 1/2 the 8x10 storage shed with his "priceless treasures" when he graduated from college, and it wasn't until a year later when we gave him an ultimatum - you come get it or the next bulk trash pickup gets it - that we got the shed space back.

He griped and whined the whole time he was loading his truck that he didn't have room to store it, to which we cheerfully replied, "Not our problem any more".

I heard that he ended up feeding most of it to the dumpster and recycling bins at his apartment complex. When he had to take responsibility for the handling of the boxes and tubs, they lost that misty glow of goodness that mementos stored at the parent's place always have.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 9:53AM
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On my behalf, for my baby years, the only momento kept is my baby book and portraits. I'm glad I have the baby book. I can't think of any small-child items I wished she'd saved.

The school things...she kept all our report cards, school pictures, and any paper certificates (ie spelling bee, attendance, citizenship, etc).

As for the awards and any bulky items as we got mom never managed those things for us. Those were our things and our responsibility to care for. If our rooms got too messy, dusty, or cluttered...we were told to be responsible for cleaning up & clearing out. If we didn't...they would. That was the rule, and they held to it. The threat was there, and neither my brother or I let anything get far enough for them to clear out for us.

When our rooms would get full, and we didn't clear out things in a timely manner, there would come a point where mom would announce we didn't get anything new...nor were we allowed to buy anything new with our own money until other things were removed...meaning trash or burn pile. We made our own choices on what we tossed.

That included our clothes when we got old enough to care about them.

My parents held very firm to not aquiring anything new until room was made. Even went as far as telling relatives to give us birthday items of any kind. No presents to unwrap on a birthday at certain ages is no fun!

The lesson was our rooms have finite spaces, and when that finite space is taken up, you have to make choices on what stays, what goes, and what's useful for NOW...not yesterday. You are responsible for your own space.

I still live today with the awareness of finite spaces and making the choice to be comfortable and cleared out.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 6:59PM
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Pity my Mother. she's 87, partly blind and on oxygen, and she's recently been decluttering her house of 45 years of clutter. She offered me some of it-I took a few old T shirts I hasd worn as a kid. I couldn't belive she saved them. She's still going strong at the decluttering. Every time I talk to her on the phone, I ask about her progress and cheer her on. I remember my older daughter had lots of trophies from sports, dancing, school clubs, many of her childhood activities. She displayed them in her room for years, then they went in a box in the attic. Then one day a couple years ago, she went up in the attic, brought the box down and put it out with the trash. I nearly stopped her or dragged ithe box back, but I realized she is wise beyond her years. She has her memories of her childhood, she doesn't need a collection of dust catchers.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 10:30AM
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My kids ditched the "thanks for playing" trophies--there's nothing special about them. Team photos, camp photos, award certificates got scanned, burned to disc, and I've saved the originals.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 1:07PM
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My mother saved hardly anything of mine, and she routinely threw things out without asking me first. School reports I worked really hard on, for example. She thought anything that was out in a "public" space, like the den where the desk was, even if it was neatly kept, was fair game for her to sweep into a bag and either throw it out or shove it somewhere (she did that to my father's things, too). One day, she was holding a tag sale in the back yard to benefit one of her social groups--and there were things there that belonged to me that she just decided I didn't need or use anymore. What I'm saying is don't assume you know your kids' feelings.

So tread carefully--you never know what your kids will want a few years down the road. Don't let your own personal experience necessarily be the rule for them. Emphasizing a "toss, toss, toss" behavior is just as unhealthy as hoarding.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 9:13PM
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I vote for a combination of what you want to save, plus asking what's important to the kid.

I have saved a lot of written things--some formal school things, but sometimes spontaneous notes or even a list that upon review seemed sweet or funny to me based on the insight into a DD's thoughts and level of writing. ut these are things that for now, I want to keep, maybe to have fun with in DDs' later adult years or with grandchildren.

OTOH, there are items that are forms of recognition but don't "resonate" with me but I'm not sure their significance to the child, so I want to go through them.

I have years 0-14 or so in one binder, and think I can pare the rest into one more binder.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 5:22PM
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I'm w/ frankie, in terms of balancing between making the decision on the QT and involving my kid.

I'll also say this--it's what I said to my DD this weekend as we were weeding out books:

"As long as the carton you are using is not overflowing, I don't care what you put in it."


"It is OK to keep a book, or a paper, for a while (as long as it fits).That's not a permanent decision. Later, when it's time to do this again, you can look at it and see if you care anymore. Right now, you may really want it. In three years, you may have found something that matters a lot more. Or you may realize that you don't even remember this.Or that it's much more important than you thought at first.
"Your perspective will change as you get older, as you experience more things. Leave room for that."

So, pick a limit. And make your kids decide.

I also didn't keep artwork or papers unless they were particularly unusual, demonstrated something key about them at that age. So, stuff they drew or colors because the teacher told them to--out. Stuff they drew that showed what they were interested in, or what their skills were--keep.

Sort of like that "toss the 'thanks for playing' trophies; keep the ones that showed you earned them."

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 10:25AM
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Also I am taking the approach that if I already know I want to keep something "for me," then I won't put that in front of the kid for a decision or an argument. I will just squirrel it away and then if later I want to consider tossing it, it could come up for discussion.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 10:55AM
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