top of page

Keepsakes Bridge the Generation Gap

Crochet Is a Favorite Keepsake
Crochet Is a Favorite Keepsake

How can exploring one's roots help bridge the gap between generations and create a stronger sense of continuity within a family?

Bridging the gap? How interesting an idea. Here are a couple of ways to explore your roots.

1) Reviewing pictures

We recently had the opportunity to review a great many scrapbooks that we inherited from several generations. Sadly, we could not identify many of the people in the older books. That was mostly due to the fact that we had never personally known those people, or we were so young when we did meet them that the memory is long past. When you are five years old nobody says, “Remember me; there will be a quiz.”

We had a good time asking all the relatives still alive if they had any more details. That worked well in some cases but not in others. We kept the oldest that we had knowledge of digitally and carefully labeled them for future reference.

The important part was that we told the stories that went with the pictures. Those stories drew us closer to one another now and “introduced” this generation to that one.

Here’s a thought. What if we dug out those old books at holiday time and people had the opportunity to ask questions and hear stories? The old pictures would come alive even if we had to look at them on our phone or computer.

2) Reviewing the memorabilia

Because we were downsizing, we needed to go through a large accumulation of knick-knacks and keepsakes we had inherited from previous generations. No way would we have room to take all those things with us when we moved. So we took pictures:

My wife’s grandmother or great-grandmother made this doily. It reminds me of my grandmother, and pulling it out for special occasions gives us a good excuse to talk about our grandparents and our lives growing up with them. I can see my grandmother sitting at the dining room table sewing on a cold winter’s day.

Matt Paxton summarizes the idea about story very clearly with his book title, Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff. He points out that we don’t often keep these things because of their intrinsic value to us but because they are reminders of the people in our lives who valued these items. My grandmother made this doily and hundreds like it. Always busy was my grandmother—her hands went from one project that took care of her family to the next.

Yes, we have pictures of Gramma’s doilies. We even have some of the doilies that come out on special occasions. And we tell the stories of who she was and what she meant to us.

What artifacts do you have lying around or hidden away because you want to hang onto a memory. When you come across them, take some time right then to take a photo. Put it in an email and send the story that goes with it to some friends or family. Get a scrapbook or create an electronic book; put the picture, the story, and the comments you get back into the new book. Do another next week. Before you know it, you will have a keepsake that can be pulled out on occasion to bring back the memories.

Ed Zinkiewicz

Your Aging-in-Life Strategist


bottom of page