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Do you know Agy, the wonderful eco-conscious creator behind Green Issues by Agy? I love the twist she puts on her sewing and other crafty projects. This December and January she has been trying to get behind the reasons why people hang on to certain material objects for many, many years despite our living in a disposable society that values above all the new. She’s organized a long list of bloggers who have shared some of the things that they’ve kept for at least 20 years, explaining why in the “I didn’t throw it away” blog train. So today I’m going to share some of the things I’ve had for ages and why I haven’t gotten rid of them.
It’s true that we live in a disposable and consumer society and we’re trained to always want new things. But often that’s not economically possible. We have some hand-me-down furniture in our home, not necessarily because we like it, but because we don’t want to have to spend money on new furniture. But there are some things that aren’t worth much money (or wouldn’t cost much to replace), that we tend to hold onto. The key behind them is how they make us feel. A classic is for people to keep their favorite toys or books from their childhood. There’s something almost magical about them that bring you back in time, and remind you of when you were little.
And how awesome is it when your own kids use your old toys?! Remember the picture above from my post on DIY street toys for kids? The two purple cars, the ladybug car and the Vons truck were all mine and, before that, my siblings’. It’s so fun to see pieces from your own past interact with your kids’ present!
You can even discover things about your own past from these objects. When my mother saw the picture above, she asked me if I knew that Vons was a supermarket chain in California. I had no idea! I was born in California, but raised in Massachusetts from the age of two, so I have no memories at all of living there. I’d just always assumed that Vons was some made-up name!
Some toys bring you back in time in a different way. I used to love this record player/music box, but I’m so glad that we kept it from my childhood because you would never find a toy like this in a shop today. We have a record player in our home, but my kids still call them “CDs” because it’s a foreign sort of technology to them.
Same thing with those Fisher Price Chatter Telephones that a ton of kids in my generation had. This isn’t a photo of mine because I’ve packed mine away after my little boy nearly destroyed it, but it’s the same as this. Kids today don’t instinctively know that it’s a telephone because phones today don’t look or work anything like they used to! Toys like this teach kids about how things have changed over time. Heck, they also remind us adults how much things have changed since we were little!
You can also get really attached to objects if they remind you of someone. I published this picture of my son and me a few posts ago. My grandmother knitted the red hat that Nicky is wearing when I was little. That hat stretched out and grew along with me and I continued to wear it throughout adulthood because it reminded me of my beloved grandmother.
When my grandmother died four years ago, my mother saved a bunch of things that she cleared out of the house that she knew I would appreciate. I suppose they don’t really count for the subject of this blog train because they weren’t in my possession until relatively recently, however they were things that my grandmother had had for many years and that I will never get rid of.
For example, my grandmother’s knitting needles. She used these to knit that red hat I loved so much and so many other things. My mother threw in her own stash of knitting needles, too, knowing that she wouldn’t use them anymore. I remember being fascinated by those jumbo needles of my mother’s when I was little. Most of these are plastic and a few of them have actually broken when I’ve used them (like you can see here), but I love them because they belonged to the two people who taught me the basics of knitting years ago (I have photos of the two of them helping me start my first scarf, which later became a poncho).
The same goes for my grandmother’s knitting bag. I hate bags without a shoulder strap, so I never would use this bag if I didn’t have that emotional attachment to it.
I also got a ton of knitting and crochet patterns, books and magazines that had been my grandmother’s. Some of them are awesome just because of their vintage quality. The hats in that Bernat book are so 60’s awesome! I will never use the cardboard rectangles that my grandmother used to make pompoms because I have newer tools that are easier to use, but I love imagining how she wrapped yarn around them. My mother gave me her old Complete Book of Needlecraft that she learned many techniques from. It’s so much easier to just look online to learn these things, but I love leafing through it and thinking of my mother.
I nearly jumped out of my skin when I opened up a crochet magazine to find this photo of baby blankets because I had that very same pink/blue/white chevron blanket for my babies. Why is that? Because this is the pattern that my mother used to crochet it back when she was expecting her first child, my big brother. And that blanket got passed from child to child, grandchild to grandchild. How wonderful is it to have the original copy of the pattern!
As I’m the only remaining knitter in our family, I’m also the only sewer left, so I inherited bags full of fabric (some of which I used for furoshiki) and sewing tools (the above is only a small selection). Some of these things I use sometimes (like the sewing gauge that I showed in my hemming lesson) and some of them I never use (like the pattern tracing wheel), but I hang onto them all firstly because I love using the very tools that my grandmother bought and used. But I also love the vintage packaging and styles. I never see hand needles made in England that are packaged in cloth inside the little envelope. The decades-old price tags are pretty funny, too!
I could go on and on all day writing about all the things that I have that are at least 20 years old, but I’ll cut it short here. Thanks, Agy, for inviting me to take part in this series! It’s been great to really think about the reasons why we keep certain things for decades!
Question of the day: Have you owned any objects for over 20 years? Why have you kept them? Do you actually use them?
I’d love to hear about the objects that are near and dear to you!