Treasure Chest of Memories

2015-02-14

My antique cedar chest that I have had for over thirty years sits in front of my bedroom window. It works every day as a catch-all for clothes, books, and magazines as well as a place to sit every morning when getting ready for work.

This morning I cleared everything off of the chest because inside of it is stored keepsakes that I have collected since I was a child. Today I intended to pull out the old Valentine’s Day cards that Dad gave to me all through the years until he died. We had his wake eight years ago today, and I wanted to reminisce and write about them.

However, when I lifted the lid to the chest, hundreds of memories (well maybe not hundreds but close) came pouring out of this chest. A few of my Dad’s Valentine cards were on top; I reached in and pulled them out.  Then I started searching for more and ran across an envelope that contained five letters from my sixth grade friend, Suzie. I instantaneously sat on my wooden floor and unfolded the letters that she had written to me in 1971. I was amused as I read those letters that detailed the frustration of love and boys.

Immediately I thought that I needed to write the stories behind those letters and scan them before they one day deteriorate. She explained she was writing to me instead of calling because her mother was sitting by the phone. In that era there were no cordless phones, cell phones, texting, or social media. And I am glad there wasn’t because I would not have had those letters today to read. There is much more to write about what was said, however, she did reiterate in every letter, “Please do not let anyone read this letter” so to this day will have to keep it confidential!

I have looked at many of my keepsakes before, but today when I opened the chest, I found a treasure of memories and the instant desire to write the stories behind them for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In this chest are priceless items:

Great Aunt Jessie’s shawl; scrapbooks; greeting cards from my parents, husband and children; my baby blanket; hair locks from 1961 and 1967; my Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls; autograph book signed by friends in 1972; 1976 medical receipt for an EEG costing $60 with my dad’s signature as responsible party; January 8, 1976 health insurance estimate of benefits for my emergency room charges at the cost of $182 with my dad responsible for $1.20; 1982 dental x-rays; my wedding veil; my sons’ Cub Scout ribbons and pins; my children’s creative writing and hand-drawn pictures; my mother-in-law’s embroidery; numerous address books and years of day minder calendar books; postcards from my grandfather and a brother; and many other items to write the stories behind them.

If you have a treasure chest of memories, whether in shoe boxes or in a cedar chest, open them up and start Keeping Your Memories of the story behind them and why you saved them. Start by taking a picture of one of your items and grab paper and pen or pull out your laptop and tell your story. Your descendants will cherish that memory of you even more.

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