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10 Things You Should Save for Your Kids

These small, sentimental items will be treasured gifts, not a burden


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(This article appeared previously on The Huffington Post.)

Chances are, you never use your Grandma’s china set although you’ve schlepped it along for multiple moves because the idea of selling it feels wrong. So what do you want your kids to have — that won’t burden them the way the china set does? Setting aside these small treasures will truly be a gift:

Your First Passport

United States passport

Looking at all those country stamps from exotic places will remind them of what an adventurer you are. It also opens the door to retelling the stories of the time after college when you backpacked and hitchhiked through Europe and the Middle East.

Your Military Discharge Papers

Aside from the very practical aspect that your children may one day need them to help get you services from the Department of Veteran Affairs, looking at old papers with old dates on them is infinitely cool. Plus, we’re told that nobody beats the VA when it comes to misplacing paperwork or not being able to find your records in their computer, so don’t toss them away.

One Printed Photo of Your Wedding

Vintage wedding of the 50's

Digital photography is fabulous as long as you backup your photos and don’t forget where you’ve backed them up to. But there is just something about being able to hold a printed photo in your hands. Old photos show their age, which in the case of old photos, is precisely the point.

Something Belonging to the Oldest Living Relative They Know

Make it small but make it personal. And it must have belonged to someone they actually know. Unless they have an antique hairpin collection, being given a hairpin from your great-aunt who died before they were born reduces it to just being something old. Old stuff is for collectors.

A Sentimental Piece of Jewelry

It may be the ring you got at your Sweet 16, or the watch you received from your dad when you graduated college. Its value lies in its sentiment. This doesn’t mean your diamond rings, unless there is sentiment attached and not just dollar signs. Things with big dollar signs belong in the family trust to be argued over later by your children.

A Receipt With a Date on It

We guarantee they will laugh every time they rediscover it. Yes, a quart of milk really just cost 50 cents in 1960. Gas was about 35 cents a gallon, if you really want a guaranteed belly chuckle. We are partial to grocery lists on the day they were born, and hotel bills from vacations.

The Photo of the First Time You Held Them

Jackson Reid Strand (left), with author (right)

Credit: Courtesy of Doug Bradley

While you probably have a zillion baby pictures, the first one is the keeper.

Highlights of Their Childhood

childhood school work

No, not the ubiquitous Little League or AYSO trophies. In fact, you can probably toss those out right now, no matter how old your kids are. Some of their early, precious art work also has a shelf life that has already expired. Ditto for those handprints in paint. But report cards are keepers, especially if there are teachers’ comments on them. Or the letter accepting them into college.

The Dog Tags Worn by Their Childhood Pets

Our furry family members deserve to be remembered as well. Rusty’s name tag has a place in the remembrances box, along with a photo of him with the family.

Your Favorite Music, on a Platform They Can Use

The box of old eight-tracks isn’t going to be of much use to Junior. Let the cat enjoy playing with the magnetic tape and see which songs you can download from the iTunes store. Only a handful of eight-tracks are worth anything today, and not even of much value to collectors.

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By Ann Brenoff
Ann Brenoff is a writer and columnist for the Huffington Post.

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