You know when you hear a favorite song and it takes you right back to a special memory? Keepsakes have that same kind of power. Grandchildren like the hottest new stuff, but they also have a real need for a sense of family history and connection. At the time of giving, keepsakes create an immediate sense of connection. Over the years, they become a powerful symbol of that connection. Keepsakes evoke not only memories and but also feelings and they make us feel part of something bigger, a sense of belonging to a critical part of a living family legacy. Older people have a need to know they matter and that the things which gave them pleasure are valued by others and grandchildren have a need to have a thing that can be used as a memory.
I heard of a man told the story of visits to his grandmother’s house when he was little and the cut crystal handles she had on the French doors into her dining room. His grandmother would take the door handles off, hang them on a string, and put them in the window so that the sunlight would catch them and there would be a rainbow in the room. When his grandmother died, his aunt gave him the door handles as a keepsake. After that, as he lived in different apartments and town houses across the country, he put those handles on either his bedroom door or the front closet door. Today, he owns his own house and the handles are on a prominent door. Sometimes, he and his six-year-old daughter take the handles off to “make a rainbow in the room.” And that’s the philosophy to life he’s teaching his daughter, a philosophy he got from his grandmother: you can always find a rainbow when you need one.
My own personal treasures are equally as meaningful for me.