Minimalist Monday: Memory Boxes
This time a year ago we were very busy decluttering the big clutter hotspots in our home in preparation for downsizing. One of the hardest areas to conquer was the loft because we rarely went up there apart from at Christmas (it had no fixed ladder) and consequently what was put up there stayed put for the ten years or so that we lived there. Also at the time we thought we were buying a three storey house without a loft and little storage (just a garage) so we knew that we would not be able to hold onto most of the stuff we had always stored. Big decisions and big losses had to be made. Some things were easy to loose (why were we holding onto to a very dated 'Wendy House'? ) but other things were much harder to make decisions about. I deliberated over my wedding dress but eventually (and happily) donated it to Oxfam and we drastically edited down our vast collection of Christmas decorations. My husband got rid of many of his old school books.
A harder job, and one that could only be done by me, was editing down a vast collection of sentimental items - some from our courtship and wedding and many items from my children's baby, toddler and primary school days. I was glad that I had kept many of the items, but there were just too many. The big boxes of baby stuff I had kept were not attractive to look at, were disorganised and left me feeling more overwhelmed than nostalgic. There was too much to look at in one session so I spent several evenings going through the items, carefully choosing and saving those items that held the most meaning and throwing a lot away. Each time I came back to the collection the process of editing became easier. I already owned three neat white lidded boxes which I had bought in a random previous attempt at becoming organised and I decided that these would be ideal for keeping the most treasured items from my sons' early childhoods and our wedding. There were quite small but big enough to put quite a few items in.
Although challenging and time consuming, in the end I enjoyed sorting out these sentimental items and realised that I would like these items to be more accessible in the future. I decided that if I kept fewer sentimental items they would be easier to store and look after and that I could enjoy handling them and looking at them more often.
So what should you put in a memory box? The size of the boxes I chose dictated that I couldn't keep anything too bulky – I have had to put a few items like first shoes and a christening gown and shawl in a separate box and I keep selected photographs separately in albums. These are the sort of things I have put in my sons' memory boxes: hospital tags; scan pictures; a newspaper from the day they were born and from the millennium; a CD from the week they were born; a babygro; cards from their births, christening and first birthdays; drawings and paintings; certificates, school reports and sports newspaper cuttings; letters to and from Santa and homemade cards made for us. Our wedding memory box contains letters, cards and a few small items from our wedding
I'm glad I took the time to edit down these sentimental items and I am happy that they now fit inside small, attractive boxes because the contents feel more like treasured memories. Also, even though in the end we lost the three storey house and moved to a house with a loft (and had a ladder fitted – yay) I actually keep my three memory boxes at the top of my wardrobe and not in the loft because I like to have them near and know that they are safely stored.
Putting a few memory boxes together was fairly easy and inexpensive and they give me lots of pleasure. At the moment my boys aren't that interested but I hope they will appreciate them one day. As the boxes are small at least they won't get too bored.