The Value Of A Keepsake

The Value Of A Keepsake

What happens when you get to sort through memories?

This week, my parents and sister and I decided to clean out our shed. Oh boy, the treasures we found. Alongside the tons and tons of books left by my grandma and great aunts and great grandparents and who knows who else, we found all sorts of true gems.

For one, we found a newspaper article that announced the moon landing. Needless to say, that's going to be framed. Kaity and I got into our oldest sister, Sarah's, Polly Pockets, which have been tabooed to us for as long as we can remember (something about little siblings ruining everything). That was a good time.

We found all sorts of old dolls and accessories, including a play kitchen that we used to play with at our Grandma Helen's house.

I found old stuffed animals that I used to have trouble sleeping without, each with an ever changing name and completely near and dear to my heart.

I found hundreds of cards from sweet aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins and old friends.

I found my first journals, started in 2006, and was proud to realize that I've kept up with it for 10 years.

This week, we all discovered the joy of looking at childhood treasures, which allowed us to remember what we didn't mean to forget. We experienced sweet memories of our dear Grandma, who I still miss every day.

My dad was able to tell us stories from his childhood, memories of the Grandpa we never knew, old dogs and teachers and school awards.

My mom relived the early days of her marriage, her engagement to my dad, before there were six little rugrats who demanded her time.

There is a point to this reminiscing. When my dad urged all of us to keep all that stuff which seemed meaningless at the time, we didn't understand the point. It's just junk, just an object. No longer is this true. I found that every object holds a memory, a smell that takes you back, an idea, a revelation.

When you begin to go through all this old stuff, you find that it isn't really just old stuff. It's a representative of a much easier time, before student loans and jobs and wedding planning and understanding that the world is not as easy and beautiful as I thought it was.

Of course, it isn't all filled with memories. Everybody has those random books they never read, or puzzles that are missing more than half of the pieces. Some of it is junk, which is when it becomes borderline hoarding.

I was blessed with a happy childhood, completely oblivious to the frustrations and stress of my parents, as well as the increasingly scary things in this world. This week, I remembered the little girl that had weird quirks, who got a kick out of digging random holes in the yard and hammering nails into scraps of wood. I remembered that it's okay to sit down and remember and even play a little bit, if only to relive a memory.

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A Letter To The Grandpas Who Left Far Too Soon

The thoughts of a girl who lost both of her grandpas too early.

Dear Grandpa,

As I get older, my memories are starting to fade. I try to cling to every last bit of memory that I have of you. There are certain memories that have stuck well in my brain, and I probably will never forget them, at least I hope I don't. I remember your smile and your laugh. I can still remember how your voice sounded. I never want to forget that. I catch myself closing my eyes to try to remember it, playing your voice over and over in my head so that I can ingrain it in my memory.

I always thought you were invincible, incapable of leaving me. You were so young, and it caught us all by surprise. You were supposed to grow old, die of old age. You were not supposed to be taken away so soon. You were supposed to see me graduate high school and college, get married to the love my life, be there when my kids are born, and never ever leave.

My heart was broken when I heard the news. I don't think I had experienced a pain to that level in my entire life. At first, I was in denial, numb to the thought that you were gone. It wasn't until Thanksgiving, then Christmas, that I realized you weren't coming back. Holidays are not the same anymore. In fact, I almost dread them. They don't have that happy cheer in the air like they did when you were alive. There is a sadness that hangs in the air because we are all thinking silently how we wished you were there. I hope when I am older and have kids that some of that holiday spirit comes back.

You know what broke my heart the most though? It was seeing your child, my parent, cry uncontrollably. I watched them lose their dad, and I saw the pain that it caused. It scared me, Grandpa, because I don't ever want to lose them like how they lost you. I can't imagine a day without my mom or dad. I still see the pain that it causes and how it doesn't go away. There are good days and there are bad days. I always get upset when I see how close people are to their grandparents and that they get to see them all the time. I hope they realize how lucky they are and that they never take it for granted. I wish I could have seen you more so that I could have more memories to remember you by.

I know though that you are watching over me. That is where I find comfort in the loss. I know that one day I will get to see you again, and I can't wait for it. I hope I have made you proud. I hope that all that I have accomplished and will accomplish makes you smile from ear to ear. I hope that the person I marry is someone you would approve of. And I hope that my kids get more time with their grandpa than I did because the amount I got wasn't fair.

I want to say thank you for raising your child to be the best parent ever because they will one day be the best grandparent ever. Just like you.

Cover Image Credit: Katelyn McKinney

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7 Tips For Surviving Thanksgiving With Your Racist, Homophobic Relatives

We all have that one super conservative relative showing up to the dinner table, but the truth is we don't have to allow them to speak their minds.


The holiday season is upon us! Christmas décor is going up, pies are in the oven, and we're all getting ready to sit down with our families for the much-awaited feast. But with all the family gatherings, come the heavy conversations. One minute you're talking about your mom's stuffing and the next thing you know uncle Bill is making a racist comment and aunt Susan is ranting on about "the gays."

It is a pattern you are WELL used too, but what have you really been doing about it?

This is the year we step up and learn to be a true ally for our LGBTQIA+ friends and friends of color. It's no longer OK to sit back and allow the conversation to happen.

People don't change without conflict. Sure, maybe grandma will get upset, but you know what's worse than upsetting grandma? OPPRESSION!

So here are some thoughts to get you through this Thanksgiving. And also how to make your beliefs known.

1. Wear a bold T-shirt

I'm all for showing up in a "Black Lives Matter" T-shirt or wearing a rainbow LGBT banner across my body. A clear statement piece to let your family know, you will not tolerate bigotry or ugly comments this year.

2. Form alliances early

Inevitably there's going to be some conversations that are uncomfortable and it's going to be impossible to hide your opinions. Know who is going to be on your side and can support what you say.

Maybe it's a quiet relative who likes to stay out of the drama, but it's OK to call them out and ask their opinion knowing they will agree with you. Sometimes people need to see you're not wrong.

3. Bring some statistics

Arm yourself with statistics on the number of unarmed black men/women shot by the police, the number of hate crimes against the LGBTQIA community or the number of murders done by white men in the United States instead of Mexican immigrants.

Prepare yourself with facts that can't be disputed. People cannot argue with numbers.

4. Don't get angry

The more heated you get, the less people will listen to you. Try to remain calm. Some people are going to keep their opinions no matter what.

5. Remember that just because you love someone, that doesn't mean you can't disagree with them.

Sometimes generation gaps matter. You might not be able to change your grandma's mind about things, and it might take some time before your Aunt Judy really hears you. Try to keep calm with them and explain yourself clearly.

6. And if you blow up, do so responsibly

You need to stick by your principles. Hate has no home here. Make it known that people deserve better and that you care about that fact. Make it clear that what is being said is absolutely NOT OK.

And if you need to leave. Do it.

Staying quiet does not protect anyone.

7. When all else fails, have a drink

Let's face it, whether you win or lose, you're GOING to need a drink. Maybe you should have that drink BEFORE dinner to mellow you out. Or to give you some liquid courage to tell your cousin Debbie to shut her trap. Either way, happy drinking!

And, more importantly, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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