by Delia

 Do you have memory boxes? You know what I mean. They can be elaborate wooden or plastic boxes, highly decorated and elegant, or, often more likely, they can be shoe or paper boxes. They might be memories of a specific person (high school boyfriend comes to mind), or a specific time (that trip across the U.S. with friends), or a specific activity (softball). In these boxes you might place a napkin with the name of the restaurant you went to on prom night, or a series of post cards, or awards and clippings. Maybe these items were sitting around during or after the time they were gathered, then you put them away as other people and activities took precedence. They were items to keep, but maybe not display anymore. You might look at them once in a while, and the box gathers dust as you move to another apartment, another house. Every time you move, you think, I should just throw that away. But you don’t. They were nice memories. They are important to you.

But what will they mean to your heirs? When you are gone, will your family understand what these items meant to you? Will they look inside the box, pluck out one or two items that they might be able to use, then dump the rest in the dumpster? Is that where you want these items to end up?

First, next time you pull out the box to look through, take a few minutes to make a list identifying each item, such as, “Red ribbon, second place, track meet, junior year at Concordia High School, Fort Wayne, Fall 1989” or “ash trays stolen from restaurants, Spring Break trip, Kentucky to Florida, 1978.” Yeah, I know. It wasn’t very nice, but it’s your collection! If you don’t identify them, no one will understand their significance.

Next, take a few minutes to show them to interested family members. While I wouldn’t suggest trying to tell your son-in-law while he’s grilling those steaks on the Fourth of July, you might tell your soccer-star grandson that you’d like to show him your keepsakes from when you played football in high school. Your mutual interest in sports may whet his curiosity and he may wish to preserve them, and pass them along, after you are gone.

Take the initiative to preserve your memories! Start now!