I tried the Mari Kondo method. I managed to purge some clothing. Material objects, on the other hand, were not easy to shed. The idea of taking a picture of the item and having that be the keepsake didn’t work for me. Every piece of jewelry,  tchotchke, basket, picture, dish … even a Beanie Boo evokes memories for me that I relish.

Among Sally Mackenzie’s keepsakes are the plates that she’s purchased on trips. Photo courtesy of Sally Mackenzie

So my keepsakes keep multiplying. And I enjoy looking at them and rearranging them. Many of my keepsakes are objects I purchased on trips. I have small plates from Italy (that little store in Rome that sells Murano glass objects); Vietnam (after days of searching, a tiny store that sells only tiny items); Texas (from a wonderful regional art collective); Tokyo (because sushi); Monhegan (I can find small plates anywhere).

Many are gifts. I have a painted ceramic bird from Mexico that my college roommate gave me. Every time I look at the bird that I have kept and joyfully displayed for 50-plus years, I think of her, my college years and our irregular meetings even though we live 30 miles apart. The Chinese vases my husband searched out and bargained for in the Dirt Market in Beijing while he was teaching there evoke my memory of his eagerly telling me the story of how he managed to score them – and, of course, my time in China with him. My sister gave me the Beanie Boo named Dexter. It’s a long story, but when I look at those buggy eyes, I remember laughing uproariously, largely because of the wine, with my two sisters as we made up stories about the lives of my granddaughter’s 10 Boos and the reasons for those eyes.

I have silver earrings that belonged to my mother-in-law and a turquoise bracelet my father gave my mother, as well as the circle pin I wore in high school. I don’t wear them, but glancing at them when I open my jewelry box makes me smile.

I’m a boomer, so I like “stuff.” Minimalism has no attraction for me in my own home. I can’t get the younger generations of my family to enjoy these things as I do – although there may be some hope in the granddaughter with the Boo collection. I don’t have any illusions that much of anything I own will be a keepsake for anyone else.

On our 20th anniversary my husband gave me a lovely diamond ring. I wear it all the time and beam. He made a production of giving it to me, saying to my daughter and granddaughters, “This ring and the others I have given her over the years will be yours someday.” The diamond, the sapphire, the aquamarine are continual topics of conversation as these three of my dearest relatives decide and then undecide who will get what ring. A surprising pleasure for me.

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