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Comparing Memories

November 17, 2017 - Stacey Sacco
My dad recently gave me a box of my childhood things that my mom had organized and set aside. I knew there would be some softball trophies, orchestra programs and report cards. All of those things were in there, but there were lots of surprises as well. And again it was confirmed that my kids may be epically disappointed when the received similar boxes in the future.

My mom saved so much stuff. While there were lovely memories, there were also certificates for participating in the school bus safety week in first grade and coloring pages about trick-or-treating in Kindergarten. Sorry Mom, but I recycled all of those.

Then there were gallon-sized ziplock bags. Lots of them. And each one contained everything for each of my birthday parties. All of the cards I received were in there, even if they were just signed with names. She included not just the big number candle, but also all of the other regular birthday candles that were on the cake. Most of them also had napkins with the cute theme she had chosen for the party.

I spent a day sending pictures to elementary school friends of birthday cards and sloppily colored pictures of zoo animals. I read book reports on Nancy Drew mysteries and flipped through Christmas cards from people I barely remember. I’m shocked it all somehow fit in two boxes- this minutia of a six-year-old’s live.

And in the end, I had a box of recycling and a box to keep. I realized I have no attachment to those deflated balloons or papers where I wrote my own name over and over. I discovered in this way, I am not like my mom at all. She was so sentimental. But the joy I received from that box of papers was knowing that she made space in her life to keep all of these memories for me. It was important to her to see my barely legible handwriting or the first time I received a note from a “best friend.” I just like knowing that she cared so much. I don’t need each individual object.

It makes me wonder though, what will my kids appreciate in 30 years? They each have partially completed baby books, and their very first outfits are stored in a box. I’ve managed to stash a few pieces of artwork, but most of it is in the form of a digital picture in a google file. I’ve recycled all of their birthday cards and reused the candles. There may be one or two papers per grade level to show their progress and the report cards are thrown in for good measure. With the growing popularity of digital cameras and then cell phones, I don’t even have many physical copies of pictures.

When my kids eventually are given their “memory box,” will they be disappointed I didn’t do a better job of documenting their childhood? I’ve started a journal for each of them, but done a terrible job of keeping up with it. Will they wonder why their mom didn’t put time into preserving their memories? Will some blogs posts and school Christmas programs be enough? Will they wonder why I wrote more Facebook posts than journal entries? Or maybe they will find it ridiculous that I have their kindergarten report cards and their first favorite book with the destroyed cover.

I certainly don’t know, but I hope it’s enough.

 
 

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