I recently wrote about being a baby-book-challenged mom and my failure to properly record, in book form, the history of my 5 children (see it here). Oh, occasionally I did some work on the baby books. I started pretty well with Tara's before she was born. I got all the baby shower gifts recorded. Each book had some photos and hospital braceletes tucked in. There was an attempt. It was just a failed attempt.
But I DID keep lots of the bits & pieces of their childhoods – totes full of memories sat on garage shelves waiting for the right time. They were filled with school artwork and favorite little baby outfits from each child. There were special blankets I had sewn and sweet sweaters made by now-deceased aunts. Treasures!
So, I went through everything and kept some of it for the chronicles I am assembling that scream of the faithfulness and goodness of God in our family for the past 26+ years. But mostly, I decided to give the things my children had made and the things we'd collected to represent their lives back to them. I filled these giant hot pink bags with the scraps of their pasts and tied them with big bows and attached my apology-of-sorts letter to each.
Here, in part, is what the letter said:
"THE CHOSEN TREASURE OF YOUR HEART
To my children – What do with this stuff…
I know receiving all these odds and ends and bits and pieces of your lives may cause you to wonder: what am I suppose to do with all this stuff? And why is mom giving back to me the things I made for her as a kid?
Well, I am keeping plenty of little momentos and scraps myself. As you know, I am hard at work cataloguing our lives, creating a chronicle of the adventures that we have enjoyed. I am placing everything in books that I can pull out at a moment's notice and peruse and enjoy, but I am simplifying at this stage in my life. I hope the fact that I have held onto these things for so many years will speak to you of the importance they have had in my heart.
As I have prepared to give these things to you, I have looked at every single item again. I have touched each memory, smiled and cried over piece after piece of our family history. There were little scribble drawings and coupons you gave me along with your incredible artwork and report cards filled with teacher's notes (nearly always good!), and it is all so precious to me. Now I hope you can enjoy it, too.
But, more than anything – I don't want you to be overwhelmed by it. So I am sending along a few suggestions.
When I was a little girl, one of my favorite "books," was the scrapbook my mother had created as she was growing up. She had glued napkins from special parties and locks of hair (hers and family members), photos of her pets and poems she wrote when they died. She filled her book with certificates she won in Sunday School and letters from her mom. There was a hand-written note from Marty Robbins and pictures of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with their horses. They were her treasures. I loved looking at that book. My mom would only let me see it on special occasions because it was getting old, even then, but sometimes I sneaked to look at it because I found it all so interesting. It told me about my mom before there was me and it contained the true essence of her. The things she saved then, some as far back as over 60 years ago now, still speak about who she is, still bring insight into her heart.
So, I truly see the value in scrapbooks and keeping momentos and keepsakes. There is a huge scrapbook "movement" going on and this really isn't about that. This is just about organizing the pieces of your lives so you can enjoy them. In that spirit, here is what I suggest you do with this huge bag of goodies:
- Sit down and start going through.
- Anything that brings a bad memory or none at all – toss it immediately. It has no value to you.
- Anything that reveals a little about who you are or makes you happy when you see it, glue it into a scrapbook or place it in a page cover in a notebook. Then, every birthday, get it out and remember and think about how these items contributed to who you are. Share it with your children. They will love it, they will love your story.
It is amazing how the things we write or draw or won as a child shape us as adults. I recently went through many of my belongings and ended up throwing away a lot of things that reminded me of a person I no longer am and never again want to be. But I am choosing, from the chosen treasure of my heart, to hold onto things that have brought me to where God always wanted me to be – the person He originally intended.
Memories are a tough thing sometimes. They can play tricks on us. At , I have made a decision to spend the last half of my life remembering the good stuff, the laughs, the successes, the wins – my chosen treasures. This is why I am cataloguing the blessed life I have been given. I am remembering the goodness of the Lord, the heritage He gave me, the legacy He is allowing me to leave. I am recalling His provision and His confidence in me to be your mother.
This is my chosen treasure. I hope you'll find some of yours in this collection of stuff."
Blessings my parent-friends – it's not too late to bless the kids!… Jeanie
NOTE TO SELF: As I look around my house, the photos, the objects d'art, the books, the letters, the stuff…I am blessed, rich, at peace. There has been some pain along the way, yes, but it has been gloriously outweighed, richly overtaken by blessing. God is faithful. He is so faithful.
Pictured: the kids as three mice and 2 kittens and as beauty contestants and MC (clothes from various weddings they did that year), October 1987.