Memorabilia

Memorabilia is defined as objects kept or collected because of their historical interest, especially those associated with memorable people or events. Most of our memorabilia are pictures and items that are personal and remind us of good times in our lives or remind us of our family history.

I have seen homes where memorabilia items are scattered throughout the house and resembles clutter. What to keep and what to let go is very personal. This is my personal take on the subject.

If you keep memorabilia you should look at it occasionally and bring back those good memories. If it is just historical memorabilia you might label it and put it away for your decedents. The question becomes, how much should you keep and how should you store it.

My memorabilia, except for some art work that is displayed, is stored in my guest bedroom. Once a year when I deep clean and reorganize that zone, I pull our my items and remember. I also reevaluate how much to keep. The older I get the less I feel is important.

Let’s look at some broad categories:

  • Artwork made by your children  – I have by now very little of this. A few special pieces that I think my boys will enjoy finding – the handprints, a scout project, holiday decorations. I encourage younger parents to keep a few good pieces from each year and label the pieces. Later it is difficult to always even remember which child did the work let alone how old they were. 
  • Cards – My personal rule on cards is that I only keep ones that have a special note inside. As I have aged, I relook at some of those notes and ask myself, “Do I want my children to read this?”. When my husband died, I kept almost every sympathy card I received. Now I am down to just a handful. The same holds true for some of the cards he gave to me throughout our marriage. 
  • Photos – My stash of photos falls into two categories. First, I have pictures of trips and events that are personal to me. Then, I have pictures that show family members having fun or pictures that show our family history. Each year as I go through the pictures I get rid of a few more. If I can’t remember who these people are, why keep them? Those older pictures where I do recognize family and friends I label so my boys will know why these pictures were kept. I find myself throwing out near duplicates or bad pictures.
  • Pamphlets or brochures – These are usually from my trips. When I came back from some of my trips I had quite a few. Now I only keep ones that really have special meaning to me. I have tossed all old maps.
  • Ticket stubs, programs or invitations – If I kept a ticket stub or program from everything I have ever seen, it would take over a whole closet. I only keep ones where one of our family members is mentioned. 
  • Physical items – I have found that most of the physical items I have been holding on to are in pictures. I just got rid of a silver-plated drinking vessel that my husband and I used at our wedding. I have a wonderful photo of the event and no longer need the actual vessel. The same is true of a silver-plated picture frame that help a wedding picture. I kept the picture and ditched the frame.
As I noted before, memorabilia items are very personal. I only suggest that you honor the items you have kept by organizing them and labeling them for those who will need to sort them after your demise and that you really ask yourself why you are keeping each item.



Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Card Clutter

Valentine’s Day has just past. The two cards I received this year are still up on the shelf in the kitchen where I can enjoy them every day. Depending on where you are in your life, you may receive just a few cards or a ton.

If you have small children, they may make you cards. If you are a teacher, you will receive cards from your students. You might have a secret pal give you a card at work. Special friends might send you fun cards. A very special someone in your life may give you a card with a lovely note inside.

Nice.

Now, let’s think of 60+ years of receiving cards. What if you kept every card? Wow! You would have boxes and boxes of cards. You might have an old dresser filled with cards. Overwhelming!

But you say, “My children made these cards for me. My friends put a lot of thought into these cards. I love the reminders that people care for me”.

This is a very personal decision, but I am pretty sure you don’t want to dedicate a whole room just for storing cards.

Consider these options:

  1. Chose the most special – like the year your son wrote his own special poem in a card or your mother wrote you a special note. Then box these cards up in a lovely box and label it. Put the box on a shelf and revisit the box once a year.
  2. Spread out your favorite cards and take a picture of them. Then let the cards go.
  3. Make a collage of the best cards for each holiday and bring out this collage for decoration on the appropriate season.
  4. Pass on old cards to schools or nursing homes so they can re-purpose them in projects.

Remember that if you toss out a card that your mother or child gave you 25 years ago, you are not tossing out the person or your love for that person. So by all means keep a few very special cards, but not all.

Letting go of the masses of old cards will clear up space for more happy memories to come your way.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Happy Valentine’s Day

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! This is the time we show special people how much we care about them. Depending where you are and where you are in your life, you may receive just a few cards and gifts or a ton.

If you have small children, they will make you gifts and cards. If you are a teacher, you will receive cards from your students. You might have a secret pal give you gifts at work. Special friends may send you fun cards. A special someone in your life may give you a card and a gift.

Nice.

Now, let’s think of someone 60+ years of age. What if they kept every card, every gift, every dried flower or deflated balloon? Wow! That would be overpowering.

I have heard clients say, “But, my friends made these things for me. My friends put a lot of thought into these gifts. I love the reminders that people care for me.”

This is a very personal decision, but I am pretty sure you don’t want to dedicate a whole room to storing these items.

Consider these options:

  1. Chose the most special mementos – like the year your son wrote his own special poem in the card or your mother wrote you a special note – then box them up in a lovely box and label them. Put them away on a shelf and revisit them once a year.
  2. Spread out your favorite gifts and cards and take a picture of them. Then let them go.
  3. Make a collage of the best cards and bring it out for decoration each Valentine’s Day.
  4. Pass on old cards to schools or nursing homes so that they can re-purpose them in projects.

Keep in mind that if you toss out a card that your mother or child gave you 25 years ago, you are not tossing out the person or the love for that person. By all means keep a couple of cards, but not all.

Letting go of some of the memorabilia will clear up space for more happy memories to come your way.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Old Cards: Keep? Recycle? Trash?

Another card exchange holiday has just passed. You have enjoyed the cards and now what?

Do you keep them all? If so, where do you put them? If you keep all of your cards, how many would that be by the time you are 70?

If you recycle them, do you just drop them into the recycle bin or do you put them aside for art projects? Do you take some to schools or assisted living homes for projects? Or do you set them aside and plan someday to take them somewhere for someone to use them?

Dare you just trash them? Is that disrespectful to the person who gave you the card?

Perhaps you do a combination of the above. I like to keep a very few cards that have very special meaning and a special handwritten note inside. These I look at probably once a year. Then after a few years, even some of these cards are released. The keeper cards are kept in a memorabilia box.

I have in the past recycled some cards when it was easy to pass them on to a group who would use them. Now, I  have to be honest with myself. I would probably have those cards lying around for a very long time before getting them somewhere for someone else to use. I will put all of the cards I don’t plan on keeping that are recyclable into the recycle bin and the rest into the trash. Getting rid of them does not mean that I did not enjoy them or receive pleasure from receiving them from someone special to me.

I look at most cards like flowers. They brighten my life for a week or two and then I move them on.

Letting go of items that take up space in my home and live, opens my life for more happy memories (and cards) down the road.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing Memorabilia

Almost everyone has memorabilia of some sort. Memorabilia is a broad category and might include pictures, posters, letters, journals, ticket stubs, knickknacks picked up on vacation, or other items that have a deep meaning.
Sometimes we keep items because they had a meaning when we acquired them or we loved them at one time but time has now caused those items to be just there and taking up space. The deep meaning has disappeared. Sometimes we start to collect something that has meaning and then others hop on the bandwagon and gift you with similar items. Now you have a large collection that has lost its meaning. For example, if you collected a few demitasse spoons from countries you visited on a European tour many years ago – then friends gifted you with more spoons to help you “complete” your collection, now the whole collection has now become something that just takes up space and has lost its original meaning.
As you decide to organize your memorabilia, first ask some questions. Does this item still stir my heart or capture an important event? Do I need 10 items that capture that important event? Am I saving these items for posterity or myself? If I am saving items for the family, do they really want them or will they become a burden to them? If I am saving them for myself, do I plan to look at them on a regular basis or do I just want to keep them?
If you are saving items for posterity, make certain that the items are well labeled. Paper items like posters, photographs, and letters should be kept in acid free frames or containers and protected from direct light. Both paper and textile memorabilia must be kept dry and protected from bugs and rodents. Create a digital record of the items you are storing.
If you are saving items just for you, decide if you want them tucked away to pull out occasionally or if you want them on display or at least very assessable. Pictures can be placed into containers and just divided by years, events, or family members. They can also be placed into scrapbooks and placed in the main living area so all can look at and enjoy them. Other knickknacks or larger items can be stored in plastic tubs if tucked away or in attractive baskets or containers if you want them easily available.
If you are keeping journals or diaries, ask yourself if you want these saved forever. Do you want your ancestors reading them? A lot of local history comes form old journals but just give it some thought.
If you are truly organizing your memorabilia and just have the items you truly love, be sure to honor the items. A collapsed cardboard box in the attic or basement shows that these items are not loved and honored.
If you are using my zone plan, then wherever you place your memorabilia, you will revisit it and look through it at least once a year. This can give you a chance to reevaluate what you keep and do a finer sort and categorization . Don’t get hung up on making it perfect on the first sort. The memorabilia should be for your pleasure – not a burden.
I would love to hear from others on how they organize their memorabilia.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer