Yesterday I spent more than 4 hours trying to transfer old voicemail messages to my computer. These messages are as valuable to me as old family photos because they are the recorded voices of my children over the past 5 years.
My son’s first voice mail: “……(heavy breathing)…..press…..five……(heavy breathing)…..”
My daughter’s tiny, worried voice, “Mommy, when are you coming home? I need you.”
Those voices, and memories, bring tears to my eyes, and I’m determined to preserve them.
It’s amazing what comforts us in times of crisis. Following a house fire, tornado, or some other devastating disaster, I’ve seen women poking around the rubble of her home suddenly break down in tears at finding a wedding album or an old school photo.
All this has me wondering about my other memories: photos, plaster handprints, my kids artwork, and all the other precious collectibles every mom and grandma has around the house. In a worst case scenario, these will become more precious than we could ever imagine. How can we keep them safe?
Here are a few suggestions for making sure you have these treasures to enjoy in the future and can pass them along to the next generation.
- Think small. Large photo albums and scrapbooks are wonderful to handle but heavy and bulky to pack. Smaller albums, select treasures will be much easier to just grab and go.
- Be picky. Do you really need every photo taken at your wedding or could you single out just a dozen that capture the most special moments? Likewise, can you sort through art projects, report cards, and other mementos and choose just a few that are most meaningful?
- Utilize technology. My plan is to save my children’s voicemail messages on a CD and maybe even an mp3 player. Unfortunately, when it comes to sound, that’s about all I can do. I’ll be sure to save the mp3 player in a Tech Protect bag or some other type of Faraday container just in case an EMP ever occurs. Storing photos on CDs, memory cards, flash drives…it’s all good. However…
- A catastrophe that takes out our electric grid, long-term, would render anything stored electronically useless. So, figure out how you might preserve the cream of the cream, so to speak, of your treasures. Paper documents can be stored using a vacuum sealer, like a Food Saver. Photos should be wrapped in chemical free paper before storing.
- Have a plan for including your mementos in an evacuation. We never think of throwing a few photos in a Bug Out Bag, but you could do worse. Another option is to keep them stored in a water and fireproof container, stored near an exit door, ready to grab on your way out.
- Consider storing duplicates with a friend or family member living at least 50 miles away and offer to return the favor. If your neighborhood ends up under water, at least you’ll know where to find these special treasures.
Lest these suggestions give you the idea that I am some hard hearted shrew without any feelings of tenderness, take a look at my kids’, “memory filing cabinets.” Yep, we started out with individual memory boxes holding their early drawings, school papers and mementos, but my sentimental nature quickly outgrew mere little boxes and we began filling up drawers in two empty filing cabinets we have out in the garage. I’ll be following my own advice in the very near future and weeding out what I can.
When we do let go of a physical memento, it’s important to remember that we aren’t letting go of the memory!
What have you done to preserve your own sentimental treasures?