So often these days, our memories are caught on an iPhone and sent up to the figurative cloud, never to be accessed again. Which is why we are huge advocates of creating tangible ways to preserve our memories and milestones by turning beloved objects — from generations-old jewelry to a handwritten letter from a loved one — into heirlooms we will keep forever. But how does something go from random object to cherished keepsake? We’ve got some ideas for how to care for and connect with the special things that come into your life.
Keep it real.
First things first, an heirloom needs to be a real, tangible thing — something you can touch, hold, and keep. Written letters, notes and cards can be preserved and handed down, whereas emails and texts disappear into the ether. A special book, inscribed or notated, can easily become a family keepsake, unlike a Kindle download; a printed photograph feels so much more satisfying to look at than a screen. To stay connected to the content of your life, orient yourself away from the digital and toward the real. Your grandkids will thank you.
We lose track of special objects when we don’t have a place for them — they turn into junk, and overwhelm rather than enliven us. That’s why your heirlooms need homes: saved letters should be kept in a letter box (might we suggest separate boxes for each family member you correspond with?); kid’s artwork should be kept in its own binder or flat file; heirloom jewelry and watches should live in a padded jewelry box. If kept properly (i.e. nothing is overflowing, tangled, or otherwise disorganized) opening these bins and boxes will feel like unearthing buried treasure.
Heirlooms don’t have to come from your grandparents’ grandparents; you can create them for yourself, or for your children. We love the idea of creating giving traditions around significant milestones. Perhaps you add a charm to your daughter’s charm bracelet or necklace every time she moves up a grade, or maybe you write a handwritten love note for each of anniversaries with your spouse. By keeping these celebratory traditions alive, you’ll not only create memories but a way to reflect upon them later, commemorating them with a cherished object.