I am the proud mother of three sons and while my “littlest baby” is 25 years old, some of the trinkets, gifts, and art projects they made growing up can still be found on my shelves.
In fact, what is not on my shelves is neatly preserved in several tote bins which are lovingly stored in the attic, closets, and garage of my home.
OK, maybe not neatly and I made no efforts to engage an archivist, but every scrap of paper my sons produced in school has been saved. Needless to say I have a lot of tote bins.
I will sort through that stuff!
Every time we need something from the attic; basically a crawl space in our typical California ranch house, I vow to “sort through that stuff.” Of course by the time we finish shifting the totes like a Chinese puzzle in the hot and tiny space, I talk myself out of the promise but make a new one to “organize that stuff when it cools down”. Did I mention I live in Southern California!
But I finally came up with a solution.
I invited my sons, their wives, and the grandchildren for a Sunday BBQ. I bought three sturdy tote bins, one for each son, and stenciled their name on it. I set up the tripod and my flip video camera in the living room and brought in every last tote bin I had stored in the attic, closets, and garage; there were 12.
Later that afternoon the entire family gathered in the living room and with the camera rolling each son starting going through the totes.
We took photos of each piece of memorabilia
The “ohhhs and ahhhs” with each discovery was priceless. Each son was responsible for snapping a digital picture of each piece in the bin they were working. The empty bins with their names were for them to place the treasures they wanted to keep in their attic, closets, and garage.
The camaraderie, the showing off, the memories, the stories, the laughs, were endless and finally four hours later the last scrap of paper was photographed.
Everyone uploaded their pictures to a single CD for mom to file. I kept some of my favorites, the boys had full tote bins of theirs, and the rest were disposed of without much question because we had a digital picture of everything, not to mention a video of the entire afternoon.
For me it was bitter-sweet because I still remember those little hands bringing home their precious gifts. But my closets, attic, and garage are a bit less cluttered and the boys each have a piece of their childhood legacy.
I have digital pictures and a video of the process
I imagine those totes will come out again when they repeat the process with their own children. And anyway, if I ever feel really nostalgic, I have a digital picture of every last piece and a four hour video of that afternoon I can watch.
Projects like this are not only fun but really important because in all those tote bins were tiny pieces of history; their history, my history, our history as a family. More important were the stories; the recollections of days long past, and those stories are priceless.
Remember, you should be Saving History, because your story is also priceless.
Written by Linda Shay of Saving History
Copyright ©2015 by Linda Shay