They're called keepsakes, or memorabilia. But for me, they're the things I have around the house to keep present with my memories...
The other day, I received a thank-you note from one of my nieces for a birthday gift I sent her. I felt a pang of guilt, because I'd never sent a thank-you note for the birthday gift I'd gotten a couple months ago from her (and my sis and her older sister). But it was a picture frame, and I had been waiting to get a photo to put in the frame so I could take a photo of it and send it along with my note. I wanted a photo from the last Christmas holiday - a photo of my two nieces and 2-year-old nephew. I knew a photo like that existed. I just didn't have a copy. So the note got delayed. (Please know this doesn't mean that I'm predictable about writing thank-you notes. I'm not - unlike my nieces, who are amazing.)
So then I thought - I may not have written the note, but I think about their gifts every day. This is because I've placed those gifts all over the house - on shelves, in corners, wherever the gift looked nice. And I thought - they don't even know that! Connecticut is a long way from Washington, and there is a whole group of them and just one of me, and so typically I see them by going out to Connecticut, and not the other way around. They did come one year, at the Christmas holidays - about eight years ago now. So they do know the structure of my house. But they haven't seen which rooms I've painted since then, or how I've decorated with their gifts...
So I sent them an email yesterday, saying "this is where I've put" this and "where I've put" that. I had about seven or eight pictures in all - and that didn't even capture everything! One of the photos that I sent was this one, of the gingerbread house that they made back eight years ago on their visit here. Yes, it's trying to fall apart, eight years later - but there's no way I can do anything but keep it on a shelf to remember that trip, and how sweet they were as they put it together:
And here's a photo of the frame from this past birthday. This is, in fact, my niece-and-nephew corner - I set it up that way on purpose - so almost all the knicks, and definitely all the knacks, come from one or the other of them (and the hippo was a gift from 13 years ago from my soon-to-be-30-year-old nephew who won it in a Las Vegas carnival contest of some sort. I watched him win it, cheered him on, and then he just turned around and gave it to me - such a good nephew):
And here is a photo of my mantel - on it is a blue glass crystaled pyramid that my younger niece gave me last winter - there it is, right in front of a green-dyed gourd that I got when a group of us (including my nieces) went on a cruise in Alaska, back a couple summers ago. It's a nice line-up of memories up there on the mantel, because both the pyramid and the gourd make me think of my nieces:
And speaking of Alaska.... off to the side from the mantel, on top of my built-in book shelves, is another Alaska memory. It is a blue glass I got on the ship. There was a special one night - for $10, you bought a particular liquor (as much as you wanted), and the glass for it. Great deal, right? So I spent the ten dollars, and picked out a glass - I had a choice, I went with blue - and then at the end of the trip, I brought home the glass - carefully, carefully - and put in on this shelf (one of my favorite shelves in the house - full of life and color). Can you see it in the foreground there? It keeps the memory well.