Finders Keepers

Finders keepers, loser weepers, or so the saying goes. And though life is full of treasures worth keeping, the trick is to know what to get rid of and what to keep. Some things we hold on to are just junk, cluttering up our closets, drawers, and our hearts.

Riley has a rock collection with a story behind each stone. The speckles, glitter and dents all have meaning for her. We have a basket of seashells in our basement from our family vacation to Maine a few years back. We spent time walking the sand bar in Bar Harbor and searched for sea shells at Old Orchard Beach. I can’t seem to part with those seashells because they hold so many great memories.

We have ticket stubs from family adventures to Disney on Ice, memory books made at summer camp, ribbons and trophies from the county fair and birthday cards from grandparents. We also have more stuffed animals than a traveling carnival could offer in an entire summer.

I have two wicker trunks full of blankets, quilts, afghans and throws in all colors and sizes. We really don’t need all of those blankets, and I should donate most of them to people who could use them, but I can’t seem to part with them. Some are from my childhood, some are from college. Some were gifts from friends, and some I just liked and picked up along the way.

We also have two shelves in our kitchen cupboard full of mugs. Not teacups, mind you. Big, think, two-hands-needed mugs that hold enough coffee to wake you up twice every morning. I collect other things as well. I love sweaters on cold winter days, fuzzy socks to keep my feet warm and throw pillows to snuggle with loved ones on the couch. We have boxes in the attic full of noodle hearts, finger-painted pictures and stick-figure drawings from all of the childhoods they represent.

I have a locket from my grandma Knoedler, a bracelet from my mom and earrings from my grandma Cipollone. I don’t wear them often, but I like having them in my jewelry box.

I guess I hold on to things for many reasons. Most of all, these things tell stories about who I am and what I love. What my life means, I guess. From the rock collection to the seashells and ticket stubs, I think we hold on to little things so that we can remember great big things, like joyful memories, family laughter and lifelong love. It’s as if the things we hold on to tell the story of our lives, and we hold onto them so that we can hold onto the stories.

But in reality they are just clutter. Just things, little and big. Rocks, seashells and ticket stubs. They are not joy-filled. They are not laughter and they are certainly not love. Yet we keep them because in keeping them we keep the stories.

But the stories of our lives are not connected to things. They are part of us, wrapped up in our hearts like a swaddled newborn, safe and sound. And though there is nothing with holding onto mementos to remind us of the things we cherish in our lives, the trick is to remember that the real treasure isn’t in the stuff, but in living a life that reflects what we cherish.

Sometimes, you have to let things go to remember what is worth keeping, and I hope that the stories I leave behind are what my children inherit.

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Posted by Trish Berg 5:00 AM  


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