passing on the past…

Have you ever gone into the depths of your closet and found some things from your past you had completely forgotten about? That old movie ticket stub from opening day of “My Best Friend’s Wedding”. The t-shirt you hand painted for your high school baseball playoffs that says, “I’m with the baseball fan”. The Lisa Frank diary with the heart shaped lock. The 25 packs of wrigley’s gum hoarded from Christmas stockings long long ago. It seemed at the moment these things had value, but looking back, I wonder why I kept them for so long? What was I planning on doing with those movie stubs? I’m not a scrapbooker, and never plan to be….and yet, I hold on to miniscule items with the intent on repurposing them on a grander scale. I’ve got dozens of train maps, bus schedules and old airline tickets. Care to know where I sat on my flight to Philadelphia 5 years ago? I could tell you…just give me a few minutes to scrounge through my old purses. Want to know what I wrote for my 7th grade term paper? Let me just check one of my backpacks…hmmm, let’s see, it must be this binder labelled: World History – 6th period. Still intact. Still full of pop quizzes, tests, and homework sheets with my cursive doodles around the edges, signs of boredom and borderline ADD. Another gold mine? Bags. If you took a look into my closet right now, the entire left side floor space is dedicated to bags. Hobos, clutches, totes, backpacks, luggage cases…you name it, I have a version of it, each filled with a treasure chest of goodies. Inside I’ve got stashes of old makeup, hair ribbons, and earrings without their partner. Grocery receipts from 3 years ago will tell you how much I spent (or saved!) on milk and yogurt. Mints, halfway out of their wrapper stick to the bottom of the lining, hot summer days half melting them into deformity.

Yes, there are things of my past I need to let die (the melted mints have GOT to go!), but I’m pleading the “pack rat” syndrome for everything else…my diaries, old clothes, photos not yet in albums, taken before the digital age (and internet!)…these things I want to hold on to. They will one day perhaps become a treasure to someone else. The baggy Rutgers t-shirt I wear to bed now was once my dad’s old muscle tee from college. The gold ring I wear around my right hand ring finger belonged to a good friend of my grandma Roberta. The scarves I tie in my hair (almost) every day were once at the helm of my grandma Ruth’s wardrobe. These things matter. They’re old, they may take up space in my home, but some day that fact will become null and void when they are put into the hands of a future generation.

So take a look into your closet. It may be scary, those dark and dingy crevices that time has forgotten about, but you might be surprised at what you find. Unless you have a stale fresh breath fetish, toss the old mints. Give away those extra bottles of Bath and Body Works antibacterial lotions. Throw out the 5 year old receipts and the McDonald’s happy meal toys…recycle the torn clothes into dust rags.

Keep the photos. Keep the diaries. Keep that favorite, worn out pair of jeans. Shine those scuffed up yellow pumps, bearing in mind that a daughter or granddaughter might be the same size. What you have in your past has the possibility to be someone else’s future. I’ll never forget how special I felt each time I slipped on my mom’s old wooden clogs from college. Granted, I used them to go get the mail from the mailbox, but in that walk down our driveway, I was literally walking in the same shoes as my mother. I was a part of her life on another level. She may have worn those same clogs with bell bottoms and peasant tops, while I sported a frighteningly bright teal windsuit, but nonetheless, we shared a common bond through an old pair of shoes.

I’ve been blessed with family that shares the “pack rat” syndrome. I proudly sport brooches handed down to me by my great grandma Jacina. I go running in SeaIsle Ice Co. tank tops worn by my dad and uncles during their summers at the Shore. I’ve spent countless hours poring over black and white photo albums of my ancestors, all preserved for my viewing thanks to a previous pack rat. My sister was able to wear part of grandma Roberta’s wedding dress thanks to a desire in my grandmother to keep the memory of her wedding day alive. Seeing a gown that was once on the cover of Bride Magazine in the 1950’s is an amazing experience.

So take a look in your closet. Open up your attic and dive into the boxes labeled “junk”. Rummage through old purses and storage bins. See what kind of history you can preserve for the next generation. But remember, when you come across those dirty, half used lipstick tubes…make sure to have a trashcan around…it could get messy 🙂

hearts and nostalgic hugs,




  1. Baby girrrrrrrrrl, love that you have things from your grandmas and great grandmas. I always wished for stuff like that…vintage items with memories and meaning, but they haven’t come my way yet. Mainly because most of my grandparents are still alive and still living in their original houses where my parents grew up. 🙂

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