Take Don’t Take

This past week I was in Wisconsin helping my parents move their home and belongings from Montana to the Madison area. They’re at the age when they really can’t do it all on their own.

{One of the cookbooks my mom always used…I also took a photo of my favorite childhood recipe, complete with the stained and sticky pages. I could have taken this book home, but all I really wanted from it was the memory (and the recipe I always seem to lose!)}

As I was helping unpack, I came across many photographs and other mementos from my childhood. Some of these things were items my parents intentionally saved, and some were simply things they just hadn’t gotten rid of.

{A postcard I found, written by my dad to me while I was away at camp. Not only was this fun to find, but it was even more special because I don’t remember it all. My dad wasn’t one to write us or to do anything remotely sentimental. So to find this was an important reminder of his love and concern for me.}

My parents’ photos were in dozens of different places with no organization strategy. This, of course, meant a lot of my time was spent going through items in an effort to help sort through everything… and to reminisce.

{I had never seen this photo of my parents and I thought I had seen them all! In fact, a number of years ago I took all of their engagement and wedding photos and made a scrapbook for them. But this photo was new to me and I love it. It wasn’t mine to keep, so I just snapped a quick photo so I will always have it. So fun to imagine my parents as a young couple newly in love!}

Some of the photos and items are things I had seen before and knew were at my parent’s home. Other things surprised me because I had forgotten about them and/or hadn’t seen them since I was a child (or ever!) I definitely had no idea my parents still had them. It fascinates me how the brain works — I can go thirty years without seeing or thinking about a book and the instant I see the cover, a flood of memories washes over me.

{These are books I have literally never thought of in more than twenty-five years. I saw them and immediately recognized and remembered them. But, I didn’t need to take them home. A photo is enough of a memory!}

As I sorted though things, it was tempting to make a big pile of photos and items I wanted to take hime with me. Knowing that my parents had no use for them made it even more tempting. However, as my pile grew, I started to realize I needed to ask myself the question I often ask others: do I really need this?

{When I was in 7th grade, a friend asked me to go to try outs for a play she wanted to be in. Since I was there, the director asked me to read for the audition. I was given a part! I found my script—complete with notes—amongst my parents’ things. I was tempted to take it home, but as I thought it through, I realized I didn’t need it and it would just end up in a box at my house. I thought better of it and came to my senses: a few pictures captured the memory without capturing the stuff.}

As a scrapbooker and photographer, I am definitely sentimental. There is no denying it. But, since we have moved so many times, I have also learned the value of having less stuff. A few years ago I wrote a post titled Moving the Memories (sorry the images aren’t showing up….tech problems!) In it I shared some tips for dealing with memories and mementos in the process of moving. Through that specific move, I really learned how to let go of things without letting go of the memory.

{If you would have asked me a few weeks ago if I had a favorite stuffed animal as a child, I would have told you the long story of my stuffed bear Pogo. I would have sworn that was my only special toy. And then last week, I saw this bunny. And I remembered! I remembered loving her and carrying her around. And now I am thinking that I stopped caring about this once I had my bear (who has his rightful place in my room even today!)}

My main strategy was (and is!) to take photos of things I know I will never use or need. Although my white stuffed bunny from when I was little is a sweet nostalgic memory, I don’t need it. And yes, I could give it to my children, but they don’t need it either. What family with little kids really needs another stuffed animal? The same is true for a number of books, trinkets, and other odds and ends. Yes, they are a memory but no, I don’t need them.

{I don’t remember ever seeing this dress before, other than in photos. I had no idea my parents still had it. It was the christening dress my sisters and brother and I all wore for our baptism (we were in the Catholic church at the time.) I definitely had no reason to take it home, and even if I did, it wouldn’t be fair for me to have it. So, I took a photo and called it good.}

So, in all of the unpacking, I followed my own advice: Take, Don’t Take

TAKE {photos}, DON’T TAKE {it with you}

So with just my phone camera (I didn’t even bother pulling out my big camera), I captured important memories without adding more stuff to my house. And now I have new and remembered stories to scrapbook. Win win!

So what about you? How do you deal with memories and momentos?