Use memorabilia instead of store

Grandpa’s thermos “scoop” is in its third generation.

Grandpa didn’t know this was a sugar scoop when he used it. He probably thought it was the top of his thermos bottle, which conveniently doubled as a cup for his afternoon tea at work. Everyday at 4:00 no doubt. Repurposed long ago for scooping by his daughter, my mother, I carry on her tradition and keep this very old thermos cup in the sugar canister.

The joy of actually using family memorabilia means the memory is out where I can see it and touch it. It’s not rendered invisible among the collective “garage stuff”, nor is it collecting dust as clutter on a shelf. Been there and done that. Using it has kept memories fresh. I wear a gold locket from my mom and a very old sapphire ring from my grandma. Who knows, it looks so ancient that maybe she, too, had inherited it from her grandmother. My dad’s watch won’t keep time anymore, but it’s in the jewelry box to look at occasionally.

And then, there’s this thermos top from my grandpa. Quite frankly, it’s this battered little cup in my sugar bin that brings me more joy than any of the other valuables I inherited. It’s odd, even to myself, that this small bit of memorabilia could be important. But it’s all I have that was his. I use it all the time to scoop out exactly 3/4 c. of sugar, and when I do I remember my grandpa, Herbert Ashworth from Manchester, England. (I am the first to be born in the U.S.) I sometimes think about him taking the trolley to work at Wells Fargo in San Francisco, dressed in his hat and 3-piece suit, carrying a lunchbox with a most cherished English drink at the time. Tea, of course.

We were a small family with no need for any planned reunions. Everyone had the required two children who then had the required two children, and so on. Memorabilia is sparse but this is perfect for me since I’m such a de-cluttering nut. My inherited objects are useful and visible, not growing mold in a corner of a musty, dusty storage unit. Again… been there, done that. It wasn’t pretty.

Use instead of store memorabilia

Made when I was 12? What? Time for a new career.

My general thinking is that one or two items can trigger the same flood of memories that 20 items could, so I did the math and started some serious culling. I do have a very personal memory box, measuring 14”x17”. It’s filled with little items that I cherish which includes: a set of three small paintings that my dad, who was an artist, did for my nursery when I was a baby; a pair of tattered slippers that my mom wore everyday; and the jewelry box (shown here) that I made in wood shop when I was 12. It was my first and last wood working experience and I’m still amazed by my young skill whenever I see it.