Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Treasure Keeper

[what's brewing: Ma'am, would you like to keep your Starbuck's gift card?...of course, it will remind me of...]

I suppose my tendency to keep things started at a young age; in fact, it’s probably something I either inherited genetically from my mom or learned through osmosis as a child. My mom taught me to save special things, and I eventually adapted this to include saving anything that could potentially become special at some point in time. Even as a young girl, I felt emotional connections to the strangest things, and I insisted on keeping them once the connection was made.

My parents indulged this tendency and allowed each of us to reserve the top drawers of our dressers as our “Treasure Drawers.” My sister, brother and I would keep our treasured mementos in these top drawers and they were always overflowing with undoubtedly sacred items. New additions to the drawer were carefully slipped in when it had been opened just enough to let the item in without letting the rest of the contents emerge and keep the drawer from shutting again.

I had a collection of all the teeth I had lost, and a number of orthodontic retainers, saved in my drawer; by second grade I had packets of letters that had been exchanged with my childhood best friend who had moved away to Illinois after kindergarten; I had a coin purse of copper disks – pennies that my Grandpa helped me to place on the railroad tracks that ran through their town. Favorite stickers, invitations to birthday parties, old pairs of glasses (yes, I’d been wearing them since 1st grade) and funny shaped pencils were just a few of the collections that amassed in my Treasure Drawer.

The occasional chore of cleaning out our drawers usually resulted in a 2 hour reunion of sorts as we rediscovered the gems that had sunk to the bottom of the drawer over time. A limited number of items would resurface with the realization that their sentimental value had been lost over time, and those few things would find a new home in the waste basket. But most everything in the drawer was reinstated as a treasured item and returned to the drawer where it rightly belonged.

As I grew up, the Treasure Drawer overflowed into treasure boxes that were stashed in the top of my closet and then under my bed as space ran out. At the end of each year of college I would fill a shoe box with the best treasures of the year and bring it home to add to the collection. When we left for our new home nearly a year ago, I left many boxes of treasures behind in my sister’s basement and I can’t wait to go through them again someday.

Over the years my criteria for selecting “keepers” had become a bit more reasonable (though a non-saver like Jason may claim that to be quite humorously untrue – he calls my saving habits “hoarding” – imagine!). While my standards or criteria may have changed over the years, I suffered what Jason would call a setback in this regard upon moving so far away to our new home last year.

My treasure keeping ways have not only followed me here, but they have actually grown stronger. If an item (or scrap of paper) reminds me in the least of friends or family back home, if it captures any essence of an experience in our new culture, it goes in the box. Not just letters, but the post office claim slips for letters are treasures. Not just the photos from the sleepover we had for the girls in the Children’s Home, but the little notes about it they passed to each other during Sunday School the next day. Not just birthday cards, but the tags from the new items of clothing that were sent as gifts.

I don’t fault you for thinking I’m crazy; I’ve grown comfortable with my own husband’s doubts about my sanity in this regard. To those who aren’t treasure keepers, it is difficult to explain the genuine warmth and comfort I find in simply knowing these little keepsakes are safely tucked away. When I look through them on occasion, I am reminded of so many special details that would otherwise slip away from my memory. Each item represents a treasured moment, and those moments collectively remind me of the many good and perfect gifts I’ve been given by the Father of the heavenly lights. And that’s worth remembering.

13 comments:

kimom said...

I'm a treasure keeper too, though maybe not as extreme. =) I think appreciating the details in life must come from being made in His image. God cares about the details too!
Our life tends to be shipped and stored in Rubbermaid Action Packers (black ugly things, not much to look at). But last furlough I discovered that a silver Sharpie shows up really well, so I set aside in our 'home storage' one Action Packer for each member of our family and put the kids' hospital bracelets, cutest outfits, first drawings, birthday cards, etc. piled in those. Each is decorated with names and designs in silver Sharpie and each furlough we'll have a new pile to add to their 'Memory Boxes' for what they've made or kept from the last 4 years. No fancy scrapbooks, but when they grow up, there will still be plenty of access to 'Memory Lane'. =)

Libby said...

I am relieved to know I am not the only M gal with these treasure keeping tendencies. Whew! :)
I grew up with special collections, which I too still have in storage and I can't wait to show my kids again when we go back for a break later this year.
I have napkin, postcard, china doll and pencil treasure collections just to name a few. Hoarding? A horrible word. :)

Kimom I love your idea! Just recently I decided to put together some picture albums for my kids and let them pic out pictures I have stored on the computer to put in them for hours of "memory lane" fun.

Greetings from Guatemala said...

I keep everything and my husband throws everything out. We are complete opposites in this area and it drives him crazy, ha. I always enjoy reading your posts and look forward to them each week. Thanks for sharing!!

Kristy said...

Okay, so I have to admit that after reading your post earlier this afternoon, I went and cleaned out a closet. Seriously - even threw some stuff away. My husband is the collector, not me. I've moved so many times over the years, that I tend to minimize. However, I do have collections - bells, an item from every country I've visited, lots and lots of photos, etc. I'm just not as keen on saving every pen or pencil that's every come into our house the way my husband is. :-) I have a M friend who has a few treasures and each time they move, the house feels like home once these treasures are unpacked. That's the way I feel too - today my husband hung our clock and now we have the chimes each hour and it's beginning to feel more like home - after a year of living here.

Becky Aguirre said...

My Mom always had a horrible time helping me clean out my room in the dorm every year growing up...literally everything I collected had become a 'treasure' that I couldn't possibly bear to part with (but obviously couldn't keep it all!), so the battle was on...LOL!

I still tend towards keeping things of sentimental value, but have lost a lot of them due to moving too many times in the past few years...and I see this in my kids as well. It would be neat to be able to keep a few things for them to have when they are grown...

Stephanie said...

I am a "thrower outter" to be sure... but my daughter is a keeper!! I am not joking when I say that she has kept a gum wrapper as a "special thing". My husband has to remind me to love her well by allowing her to keep more than I would ever think of keeping. It is a hard balance to strike.

Shilo said...

I totally get it! I had fun going through all my husbands love notes, tickets to shows, receipts to restaurants, etc. this past week. I ended up with quite a stack to save...it will be fun to look through when we come home again! :)

Alan & Beth McManus said...

I've developed into somewhat of a keeper, having learned that we do need to revisit the memories, but my natural tendency is to throw it out, usually in a fit of "organization" or dissatisfaction with my life.

Being a "thrower outer" can have its downside, too, though. The worst was when I threw away all our old picture doubles and negatives. Now all we have are the ones that had been pasted into photo albums (the old kind of albums that turn them yellow over time.) I've had many years to regret that act!

Grammy said...

You all seem to have "places" to keep you treasures besides where you live right now....we are the older missionaries who have given up our home to move away to another country.
My children had their "treasures" in our home , so when we were packing up all their treasures had to go also. Most of the in-laws didn't want their spouses' things and did not see the value in them.It was heart breaking some times.Also some of our children had starter homes/apartments and didn't have much room to store things. So while the totes are fine for a while , think for how long you will be keeping their totes. Or as parents and grand parents get older and down size them selves where do they put your totes. Not to be a downer.. I love my treasures but I have to go through them frequently as we have moved 2 times to 2 different countries in the last year. As much as we all love our treasures we need to think simplify. There is always the other thought I have when keeping things, what if we have to flee the country quickly what do I take? I loved this blog, and did some of the same things when the family was little ... then we were called . A little different perspective that's all.

Tim and Susan said...

That is so funny...I wrote a post in my blog about this very thing. Sorting through things in our few memorabilia boxes on HA is the same.

http://memoirsofamissionarymom.blogspot.com/2008/10/shuffling-down-memory-lane.html

We too don't have much space to store those "treasures" in Japan or the US. So we have learned to be "tossers" by necessity.

Susan

missionarymoms said...

Great post! I often say that I am a "tosser" on the saver-tosser scale, but my husband is a big time saver. He does what he calls "scrap boxing" because he doesn't put things into nice little books, but saves mementos in boxes. I have kind of gotten a little annoyed with all of the saving, but what you said about all of the memories that you would have forgotten if you didn't have those mementos made me really value "saving" differently. Thanks for your fun post!

missionarymoms said...

Could I also get added to the blogroll? I linked to you several months ago, so the link is already there. Thanks!

www.ForMissionaryMoms.com

~Ashley

Beth Niquette said...

Oh, dear--I think I'm a treasure-keeper, too. My husband is not. Which sometimes causes some stresses. I have still reserved the back side of the attic for my boxes of treasures.

When I go up to clean them out, I find myself sitting, reading, remembering, and not accomplishing one bit of cleaning...

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