Monday, August 1, 2016

So Glad I Kept Them by Anna Adams

I have a hoarding problem. My parents didn't keep much of anything from when we were children. It turns out that's more common than I would have imagined, but because I have so little from when I was a child, I could not manage to throw anything away that belonged to my children. Eventually, after several moves, I had to cull some, and I felt foolish not culling more.

I've been doing a little cleaning around the abode, and I found sleepers that belonged to my son first, and then my daughter wore them. I found her lacy dresses and a t-shirt he chose for her, that proclaims her his little sister. I ran across photos of them that I don't even remember taking.

I've often wondered why my mom and dad didn't keep our toys or books or clothing. They hardly took pictures. Touching these things that belonged to my babes brings back memory after memory. I feel as if I've taken a vacation through those lovely moments, and it's almost hard to return.

Today, I brought my daughter's clothes to her house, and as we were looking through the sweet, albeit dated outfits, her friend said her mom was like mine and hadn't kept anything. I loved sharing my daughter's happiness that she could use her things with her baby girl, and I shared her sweet friend's wistful feelings that she wouldn't have that.

So--I'm actually a little sorry that I didn't keep every little thing. Last night I washed and dried and folded laundry I never knew I'd clean again.

It was pure joy.

Tonight, I showed my daughter this picture of her brother, who smiles like his niece.

And some day soon, this little girl, who is now a beautiful, compassionate, loving mom will put the t-shirt she's wearing on her own baby girl.

We write stories about love and community. We celebrate the warmth and continuity of family, the saving grace of loving each other, depending on a love that doesn't set conditions, affection that is the softest place to land.

Let me be honest--I learned most about love and family, loving these children and their father, creating the memories that I've walked through, reliving them this past weekend.

So glad I kept them all, all this time. So glad I get to love their children now. So grateful for this life.

I'd love to hear about your sweetest memories--or a moment that's taken you back to them.

My next story was also born in my childhood memories. I created a town called Bliss, in Tennessee, because living in those mountains was so blissful. The next story in the Smoky Mountains series is A Christmas Miracle, available in November.

43 comments:

  1. I treasure the things my parents kept from my childhood and gave to me, especially family photographs.

    I think it's wonderful of you to pass those articles and associated memories to your children and your children's children!

    Best wishes with your upcoming release, Anna!

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    1. You're so lucky to have those things, Kate. Itreasure the few photos I have, and recently, one of my uncles--a great photographer--has been copying older family photographs and passing them around. I never met my great-grandmother, but I love seeing her face on my dresser when I wake up in the morning!

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  2. What lovely things to pass on. Memories are the best things of all.

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    1. You're so right, Liz! I didn't expect the explosion of memories that would come from touching all those little duds and toys.

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  3. Anna, your post made me tear up a little bit. My husband is always getting after me about hoarding too much stuff. Mostly things that my children made when they were little. My grandmother was a hoarder of things like that as well and I have dolls that belonged to my aunts which I've taken care of and am saving for my granddaughter. This weekend, while moving, a found my daughter's tiny china tea set. She was so excited when she got it for Christmas all those years ago. I showed it to her and she can't wait to give it to her daughter. There are some things that can't be replaced!

    Can't wait to read all about Bliss!

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    1. LeAnne, I'm with you! Keep it all! :-) How lovely that you have your aunts' dolls, and they will be going to your grandchildren. I found my little girl's tea set this weekend, too! I was so excited!

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  4. One of my sweetest memories was receiving my grandmother's journal. She's been gone for almost twenty five years, but whenever I feel lonely, I can read her words and feel as though she's speaking to me.
    Beautiful post, Anna. Congratulations on your upcoming release!

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    1. Jill, that is a treasure beyond measure. How lovely would it be to hear Grandma's voice in my head again! That's just beautiful!

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  5. What a beautiful post, Anna! Thank you for sharing these beautiful memories. I don't have kept items quite like this, but I feel a little better about never giving them up. :)

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    1. Anna, my feeling is now--never give up a thing. As happy as I was to see them, my girl was so excited to get them.

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  6. Anna, this was one of the sweetest posts I've read. I am a keeper of the family's traditions and treasures, so this really appealed to me. I have my grandmother's table cloth from her wedding day in 1914, her china, crystal flower vases that would kill me if I had to part with them. One of my joys is handing these things down to my granddaughter, my son, my niece and my grand nieces---I hope someday they will appreciate them.
    Congrats on your new book!

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    1. Catherine, that's exactly what I want for my children and theirs--the connection back to all of us who came before. I'm so glad you have the things that your grandmother touched at so many important moments in her life. I once told my uncle that I had nothing of my grandmother's, and I'd give anything to have a single thing had mattered to her. At the time, my mom was sick, and after I'd come home from visiting her at the hospital, my uncle told me he'd sorted through some boxes and found something for me. He handed me Grandma's wedding ring that includes an inscription from my grandfather. I wouldn't part with it for anything--except to someday give it to my daughter--who wears my mother's wedding ring.

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  7. Anna, I think it's so nice that you did save the items you did. We are living more and more in a disposable society. I don't really envy my kids having to go through my many boxes of photographs when I die, but on the other hand, when my grands visit even now they love going back in time to look at their parents as kids. I made each of my daughters a "this is your life" album I gave them at a party prior to their weddings. The current friends who hadn't known them as children had so much fun going through the albums and the girls tell me they treasure the memories. I love small town/family stories. Looking forward to Bliss.

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    1. Roz, that has to be the best wedding gift ever. What a great mom you are. Even after missing things from my own childhood, I don't feel as if I have enough pics of my children. Last night my girl said she'd feel horrible if she couldn't just take out her phone and do a picture or a video of her baby. She said how difficult that must have been back then! Which is funny--but also true! ;-)

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  8. What a lovely post, Anna. We got our children when they were older, so we have no baby things, but I have Christmas ornaments they've made that go up every year, their school work, a bowl my son made in pottery class, and my son, who is now a carpenter, made me a jewelry box in high school. It opens like a roll-top desk, and contains my 'valuables.' My mom never saved much either, but kept it all stored in her heart. Don't forget that our HH love surrounds you always.

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  9. You have treasures, Muriel! And your children got to be chosen! I love that you've kept Christmas ornaments and school work, and what an amazing gift your son has. I treasure the HH love we have for each other!

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  10. Anna, what a sweet post. Your love for these treasures, which is really the love you so obviously have for your children, really touched me. My mom was like yours. I don't even know what I looked like as a baby. Many years ago, my parents were moving and my mom was throwing "junk" out (a regular occurrence.) My oldest sister couldn't bear the idea of my mom throwing my beloved "Baby Beans" away. She saved it for me and it's the only thing I have. Grateful to her and your children will be grateful to you (and their children.)

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    1. Oh, Carol, thank goodness your sister was there! I wish you had more. And you're right--touching those things that I saved was like touching my baby boy and girl again. The bonds somehow knitted themselves into the fabric. I wish you had some of that for yourself from your own life. (I wish we both did! :-)

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  11. Anna: I teach memoir classes to grandparents (and great-grandparents) I'm sharing this with my class since I have a few who say "no one will be interested in what I write". I have them pick their youngest descendant and write to that child. When that child is as old as their great-grandmother it will be solid gold to them! Blessings,

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    1. Sam, I'm truly honored. Thank you. And I believe you're right. Over the years, my sweet girly has been a little bored by my dragging these boxes around, especially when I've taken this or that out to show her. But after she had her own little girl, everything changed.

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    2. Read it to my class this morning. Two members had tears! Susan said she understood, now. Thanks again,
      Sam

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    3. Oh gosh--now I'm even more honored. Thank you, Sam.

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  12. My sister save her daughter's clothes and toys from when she was a baby and now she's given them to her to have with her newborn. I have very little from my childhood other than memories. So it touched my heart when I read your post.

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    1. Patricia, I hate that you don't have much from then either, but yay for your sister thinking of her girl.

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  13. Oh, I love this, Anna! I get very sentimental. My mom kept a lot of our 'special' baby outfits...especially if she made them. My little sis came along waaaaay after the rest of us, and it was fun to see her wear our outfits. And many of those outfits (at least the unisex ones) were passed on to my boys when they were born. In fact, all three of my kids came home from the hospital wearing the same pale yellow corduroy baby booties that were mine when I was born!

    Just yesterday I was going through the 'try everything on in your closet so we can see what you've outgrown and what's needed for the school year' ritual with my middle schooler. We had a specific pile for things he'd outgrown (that his older brothers had worn too) but we plan to keep anyway because of sentimental value. One item was a pajama that his grandmother (my husband's mom) made because she loved sewing pj's for all her grandkids (my hubby is one of 8 so that's a lot of pajamas!!). She passed away last summer, so we're definitely keeping those PJ's. Maybe her great grandkids will wear them someday!

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    1. Rula, I wish you could have had a word with my mom! :-) You and your boys are doing lovely things, and I can't wait until you get to see their joy at using these lovely keepsakes with their children! Imagine your babies wearing your booties!

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  14. My parents kept very little, but I started scrapbooking in second grade. I have the first stick of gum a boy gave me! I've kept quite a bit of my only child's stuff. It's his school papers I have to cull.

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    1. The first stick of gum a boy gave you! That's a neat memory. :)

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    2. Pamela, I wish I'd been as wise as you! I'm with Patricia--your stick of gum is great! (Except my daughter would totally have chewed that if she'd come across it in the scrapbook!)

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  15. I had a doll when I was a little girl that I loved down to threads. My mom kept it, and when I grew up and moved out, she pulled it out again. So I held onto it. As a little girl, I'd named her Gwen. When my son turned about 5, he discovered that old doll in the top of my closet and asked to play with it. He's 8 now, and it still factors into his games. He calls her Matilda. She's gotten a new life in my child's heart, and I love that!

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    1. That's the best, Patricia! I love that your boy has turned Gwen into Matilda! <3! My daughter has an extremely overloved doll named Judy. When she went into labor with her girly, her husband brought Judy to the hospital for her. That still makes me cry tears of joy!

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  16. Love this post, Anna! I've kept some of my sons' baby clothes and handed on a few to their babies. Most of my dolls from childhood were tossed out when my mom cleaned out her house and many family photos were lost in a basement flood 😢. But I still have my mother's doll which she got when she was eleven. Oh, and there's an old velvet covered album with sepia pictures of relatives though none of us know exactly who they are. My boys love looking at those.

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    1. I love that you're doing this too, Leigh. Hoping our "babies" turn out like Rula's, ready to keep the tradition! ;-) I feel so bad about your dolls, but I'm so glad you have your mother's! And my brother-in-law has albums that were my mother-in-law's. I used to ask her to show them to me every time we visited, because I wanted to remember the names for my children. I'm not sure why I didn't write them all down. And now my husband and my brother-in-law don't know them all either. But, like you, they have them! And that's important.

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    2. You know, the "kids" seem to get interested in family history and momentoes when they have their own families. We just had an anniversary party and gave each family member a CD of photos we had from all the years we've been married. I loved putting that together. Such memories! We do need to preserve those.

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    3. You're right, Leigh. The babes do seem to understand why we're so interested in gathering those memories when they realize they want to gather them for their own little ones. I love your CD idea! Your whole family must have enjoye those photos!

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  17. Sweet post Anna, and great pictures. I have a bag of my daughter's old baby shoes, from infant to toddler. I had a somewhat bossy friend around the time I had my daughter and years beyond, and her bossy mother came to my house one day and collected my daughter's outgrown clothing and took them for a relative's baby or something. The memory is vague, and I'm not sure why I didn't protest, but that's where a lot of my daughter's stuff went, including a crocheted blanket (one of my friends made it for me) that was my favorite of everything she had. I do love taking out those little shoes and looking at them every few years though.

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    1. Laurie, that's awful! You know, we let people get away with stuff when we're younger that later, we think, why didn't I... Not sure what came over your friend and her mom, though! :-) Funny how looking at the things that belonged to the children is an actual tactile memory. You have the shoes that took your babies places! :-)

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  18. I'm just like you, Anna. Can hardly throw away anything, and all my closets are bursting with the mementoes--especially since I'm now the last member of my birth family and it's all come to me. But I'm hopeless, and your post made me want to start wading through it, just for the joy of remembering. Thank you!

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    1. Kathleen, I honestly feel as if I've visited with our past selves, going through these things. I'm sorry I culled a single item, and I'm really excited about the boxes I still have to go through. And I found more photos, too! I always love the ones you share!

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  19. Well Anna, in one blog post you have justified my much-ridiculed habit of saving odd bits and bobs belonging to my sons to the memory boxes I am building for them year after year! Vindication is sweet LOL!

    As for those things saved from my own childhood, I believe Mum would have saved off a few items, like cards from my christening, or my report cards. Having said that, the seven of us created a lot of 'stuff' for my parents and whenever they do a big clear-out, I urge them to toss anything that is taking up space, as the love and memories are carried around with me every day. The lightest and happiest baggage, huh? ;-)

    Sending you and yours much love - Nikki.

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    1. Hey, sweet Nikki! I'm definitely suggest you keep every little thing. It has been the sweetest--finding all these memories in boxes. And getting to share them with the people I love best in all the world!

      You're right about the memories carried around with us, but I love having the tactile ones, too! And now that you mention your christening card, I actually do remember that somewhere in my house, I have the birth announcement my mom sent my grandparents when I was born. I'd forgotten all about it, but I'm going hunting for that! :-)

      Sending love right back to you and yours!

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