Guest post from Brenda Rodgers
In our house, I like everything to have a place. Its own place. That is not to say that everything is always in its place. The hard part is keeping it there! But for the most part, every item – small or large – has a shelf, drawer, wall, or table with its name on it. It’s where it belongs. So whenever I need something I know where to look first.
There are some items, however, that don’t fit on a shelf, wall, table, or in a drawer. And yet, they seem to be the possessions I value the most.
Possessions such as my sweet 16 cards, letters from my third grade pen-pal, race numbers from races I’ve run, my first love note from the first grade, monogrammed napkins from our wedding, the cap and gowns from graduations, the ribbon bouquet I carried at our wedding rehearsal, cards from my Mom who has now passed away.
Possessions that hold within them precious memories of times gone by and people loved. Possessions way too precious to toss in the trash or give away as if they never were.
So how to I organize these special items that are too precious to be removed forever but that I don’t need everyday?
How do I give them their special place so that I can get to them when I need them?
And how do I decide what is really important to keep?
First of all, I try to use what I can. Some items are worth displaying in your home using frames and shadow boxes. These are items that continue to add value to your life today and that you want to remember regularly. Items such as wedding memorabilia or memorabilia from your heritage and relatives.
Then all the other items go into my “Special Box”.
How to Make a Special Box:
1. Each member in our family has their own Special Box.
My husband’s is an old chest that was his grandfather’s during World War II. Mine is an old chest that my Mom stored my baby items, and now we use it as an end table in our family room.
However, a simple, large, plastic storage container used to be my Special Box for years. The box itself does not have to be meaningful or important. And it can be any size you want. Just purchase a large, plastic storage container, or use a container you already have.
2. Only include items that are too special to get rid of, but that you don’t need accessible every day.
Items in my special box include greeting cards from special birthdays and milestones, special gifts I’ve received, childhood memories like diaries, art projects and writing samples, high school and college memorabilia, and wedding memorabilia. Anything that you want to keep that is special to you can go in your Special Box.
3. Organize the greeting cards you choose to keep.
For me, a greeting card is more special than a gift. So I have a hard time throwing away cards. I try to only keep the ones: from the most important milestones, from the most important people in my life, and that have special hand-written messages in them.
I organize my cards in plastic bags by either the person who gave them to me or by a generic label such as “Milestones”. I write the label for the bag (or attach a printed label) to a colored index card (so that it stands out), and put the index card inside the bag so that the label is easily seen from the outside.
4. Follow this rule: It must fit inside the Special Box!
As I mentioned earlier, my Special Box started off as a large, plastic, storage container. But as time has gone on, I have adjusted it to a chest that is a perfect size for my needs. Give yourself time to determine each of your family members’ needs, but then decide on a size box that you can easily use for a long period of time.
This means that periodically you will need to go through even your Special Box and clean out and get rid of some items. Otherwise one day you will end up with several boxes that keep growing and growing!
Every once in a while, when my special box starts getting full, I go back through the cards and items and decide what needs to be discarded. Of course some items I will keep forever, but I have found that others I can let go of as time goes on. Special items serve a purpose for a time, but when that time has passed it is o.k. to let go of them. I remember this to give myself permission to hold on to items as needed, while also allowing myself to let go of them when the time the right.
Creating a Special Box has given me peace by having all of my most special possessions organized in one place, and it has brought me joy as I sometimes take a peak inside, and once again, walk down the road of sweet memories from my past!
How do you organize your most special possessions?
I would love to hear your ideas!
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