Cary Farrell

What's that Word...Memora - what?

by Cary Farrell
March 12, 2013
All my younger clients ask me this question as we find their treasures because I call their treasures Memorabilia, and they have a hard time remembering this word. I smile and tell them the word again.  But what is memorabilia?  I explain to my younger clients that it is items that we have good memories attached to that we want to save to enjoy later.  For my younger clients it can be artwork, awards, souvenirs or karate belts to name a few.  For older clients it can be baby clothes theater tickets, mugs, cards, pictures, casts or body parts that have been removed like knee cartilage or wisdom teeth.  The list really is endless because everyone can have memories attached to anything.  Some of us are more sentimental than others and tend to keep everything or anything that we acquire.  
Once you define what memorabilia is to you, the next question is: What do I do with all this memorabilia?  Most of my clients don't "do" anything with it but leave it all over the house or put it in boxes in the attic or basement.  My encouragement to them is that if the memorabilia is worth keeping then it is worth keeping well. The challenge to keeping it well is that it is very time consuming and expensive to keep a lot of memorabilia well.  Feeling overwhelmed just thinking about it? :)
Before you get up and throw it all out...
While sitting in my adult Bible study this morning, I thought about the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. God told them to choose stones from the Red Sea to pile up as a memorial. The memorial was to be a reminder to them and the coming generations of what God had done there. Why am I telling you this?  Because even though they just made a pile of rocks, the memorial had significance for generations to come.  
Are you keeping things that will have significance for generations to come or will someone go through your stuff one day and throw it all out because they don't know the importance behind it?
I have sat with clients who had to go through large bins of pictures and cards that their parents left behind that had no meaning or significance to them but they felt obligated to look through it all just in case there was something important.  Instead of the memorabilia having significance it was a burden to deal with.
Be intentional with the memorabilia that you keep.  If you have kept elementary and high school memorabilia, are you planning to show it to your children one day as examples of what you were like at their age?  If you are keeping hundreds or thousands of pictures of your life, when do you schedule time to look at them?  Don't say,  "One day when I retire."  Ask anyone who is retired how much time they spend looking through all their pictures and memorabilia.  I have lots of retired clients that still don't have "time" to look at that stuff. No one really wants to relive all the family vacation videos or all the sporting events you participated in unless you become famous for it.
Keep a small amount of important memorabilia that tells the story of your life so that you and others will be more likely to enjoy it.
If you want your family to see the significance of your memorabilia then don't hide it away in the attic and basement.  Pull some of it out on your birthday or your kids' birthday and share the story of significance with them.  When my kids struggled in school, I pulled out the few creative writing assignments I had kept to show them all the red marks I had received, and to remind them that every writer edits and rewrites. We have had a family tradition of watching the kids' baby videos on their birthdays.  We get to relive how adorable they were and how thankful we are that they became a part of our family, and yes I cry every year!  
I HATE scrap booking but I have committed to making a scrapbook or photo album for each child with the most significant pictures of their lives. I still have a few to make.  You don't really need 50 pictures of a birthday party to tell the story.  Pick out the significant ones and let the rest go.  If you overdo the albums everyone will feel overwhelmed to enjoy them. We have too much "living" to do today to enjoy every past experience. Often what is kept represents the growth we have made over a lifetime but I don't really need the growth charts to prove that I grew from a baby to an adult.  Everyone can see that.  Keep a small container, scrapbook or collection to show your progression, but choose the most significant.  
What are greeting cards?  I challenge all my clients on this one because they are all over the house!  Cards are hugs from family and friends.  You can't physically "hang on" to all those family and friends. You enjoy the hug and then let go confident that you will receive another some day.  Cards are verbal hugs that you can enjoy for a little while and then let go.  If the card made you laugh or cry, I suggest using it as a bookmark in a current read so that you can enjoy it several times while reading the book.  If it is from a child, spouse or dearest friend and it is very, very special then keep one small box to reread in 10 or so years. Make a point to periodically pull out the box and enjoy the cards, letting go of any that you can.  Remember someone is going to be left with the responsibility to do something with the box you are collecting.  
Memorabilia is important to all of us and can either become a blessing or a burden to ourselves or the next generation.  Make a conscious effort to make it a blessing and use your memorabilia to inspire the next generation. Remember that if it is worth keeping, then it is worth keeping well!