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Trophies, plaques, certificates, yearbooks ... what to do?
Old 02-01-2019, 08:21 AM   #1
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Trophies, plaques, certificates, yearbooks ... what to do?

Years pass and the pain lessens a bit over the death of my parents. We open boxes and find it is now a bit easier to sell or give away mom's favorite spice rack.

But then the box of yearbooks appears. Then the plaques. Certificates. Trophies. Oh, and let me lump in my own childhood plaques and trophies.

We look at them, cry, and want to move on. The grand kids don't really care about this stuff. Yeah, we saved the war metals for them, but beyond that, they don't want the 1942 yearbook from a closed and paved over high school.

What to do? How on earth do I part with this stuff? I know there are some places that will take trophies -- usually for a small fee -- to re-imagine them and re-purpose them for a good cause. I'm not sure that's even worth it. But yearbooks? Framed certificates?

My heart tugs at the remembrance while it realizes that this stuff is ephemeral. The value is in our hearts, not in the stuff taking up space. Yet, it is hard to let it go.

What to do?
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Old 02-01-2019, 08:31 AM   #2
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It's tough to deal with a loved one's passing. I try to be glad there were events and accomplishments to celebrate. As for the items, I take photos of them then discard most. A photo can evoke the same memory as the item itself, and it's so much easier to store.
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Old 02-01-2019, 08:35 AM   #3
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It's tough to deal with a loved one's passing. I try to be glad there were events and accomplishments to celebrate. As for the items, I take photos of them then discard most. A photo can evoke the same memory as the item itself, and it's so much easier to store.
The photos are a great idea!
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Old 02-01-2019, 08:37 AM   #4
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Now why do I keep forgetting about that!?

Photo of mom and dad's yearbook page would be cool.
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Old 02-01-2019, 08:38 AM   #5
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Sorry for the loss of your parents.
Siblings and I went through the same thing after last parent passed a few years ago. We spent 7 days together going through everything. My favorite was sitting at the big table going through pictures and remembering....
We all took a few pictures and the rest went to recycle. As you said, the memory is in the heart, but it IS hard to let go.
We still have not gone through the years of slides. The cassettes are sitting at DB house. I imaging there will be tears flowing again, however I can honestly say I highly doubt I will want to keep any. Our kids are not interested in them.
Blessings to you as you deal with this issue.
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Old 02-01-2019, 08:38 AM   #6
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How do you discard yearbooks? Trash can?
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Old 02-01-2019, 08:51 AM   #7
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I'm developing sort of a motto for decluttering: If we don't throw it away now, our kids are going to have to do it when we die. No-one is going to look at it between now and then.

Scanning or photographing items with sentimental value makes a lot of sense. But it brings on the bigger question of where to store the photos.

You can post them on Facebook, and they'll be forgotten within days. You can organize electronic copies of photos (see other thread on this) but who's going to know where to look for them, or even how?

One cool thing Android (and probably Apple) does is show you photos from this day one year ago, five years ago, etc. Maybe something like that, on a digital photo frame, would work.

There's very little value in keeping old "junk" around. But there is value in being reminded of old times. It seems those moments work best when they're spontaneous, so it's hard to plan for them.

This is a timely discussion, since I've gathered three 12-gallon totes full of old photographs. Scan them? Organize them? Toss them? Many of the people who would know the subjects of the photos are gone now, and others won't be around much longer. Big decisions!
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Old 02-01-2019, 09:19 AM   #8
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This brings to mind my recent visit to an old cemetery. There were graves there of people who died in the early 1700s, and some of the markers were so old and worn, they were little more than small, smooth, dark gray slabs of rock. We are all destined to be utterly forgotten in a much shorter time than we might hope or expect, and our treasured possessions, memorabilia, and keepsakes will be discarded and forgotten much, much sooner. Sad but true.

I suppose my plan is to keep a few items that evoke the most precious and poignant memories of my parents once they're both gone, but—sadly, and with a heavy heart—discard or give away everything else. Taking pictures of yearbook photos and covers and other similar items is a good idea. Maybe save the most special or memorable plaque and/or certificate. But do realize (and I think you do) that these items will most likely stay hidden away in a box or a drawer or attic almost exclusively for the rest of your days, and will be discarded when you're gone.
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Old 02-01-2019, 09:23 AM   #9
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How do you discard yearbooks? Trash can?

If you want to destroy the planet!!! Recycle....






(just having some fun on your part... don't hate me)
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Old 02-01-2019, 09:24 AM   #10
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My mom threw away her stuff like that before she died and I have done the same.
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Old 02-01-2019, 10:12 AM   #11
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When each of my parents passed, I went out and purchased an 18-gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck tote for each, then ruthlessly distilled their lived down into a collection that would just fit in each. You know - war medals, log books, diaries, photos, old toys, pocket knife, whatever. I then labeled each with DOB, DOD and name, then put each in the attic - then told my son that, upon my passing, he has my permission to discard both, either or none...and to do the same for my belongings. That way, I wasn’t forced into deciding what items that formed the essence of the memory of my departed parent I would discard. All that said, taking digital photos of the various items is an excellent idea that I will likely do - thanks.
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Old 02-01-2019, 10:18 AM   #12
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+1 on photos.For her parents 25th anniversary, my late wife put together a scrapbook of photos. Remember those gummed corner things? After she died, I scanned each page, then gave the scrapbook to one of her cousins and a CD to the other.
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Old 02-01-2019, 10:18 AM   #13
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How do you discard yearbooks? Trash can?
Maybe there's someone, somewhere looking for that particular yearbook.

Ourclassreunion.com, for example, sells only old yearbooks; and you can also sometimes find yearbooks on more general reseller websites such as abebooks.com, amazon.com and ebay.com.
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Old 02-01-2019, 10:22 AM   #14
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I'm also taking pictures of the various plaques and awards before I pitch them. The won't let me have the actual items in the old folks home anyway.


The old yearbooks can be recycled with other books.
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Old 02-01-2019, 10:30 AM   #15
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Photos are a whole different matter. Both of my parents were first born and ended up with their family photos. I have my cousins working on this, we are doing it as a family project. We've managed to find photos from before 1905, on cardboard stock, and stunning. I mean, the 1904 photos from Europe blow away the stuff from the 60's. Anyway, we're digitizing those and I've asked my one cousin to keep the special great-great-grandparents photos to pass on to her kids.

I will digitize all my parent's and family photos and share with my siblings. A likely retirement project I'll be starting in a few weeks.

Most of the other stuff in the end is junk. Dad shared all the army photos with various historians, so we have that covered. But plaques declaring the winner of a softball game? Toss. I will say, Dad saved one trophy (softball, again) that is over 2 ft tall. 70 years old. I found a museum who has no interest -- they say they get them all the time. I do want to find a home for this one, though. There may be a great grandkid who wants it.
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Old 02-01-2019, 11:36 AM   #16
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My Dad passed away a little over 6 months ago and I had the terrible task of sorting through the house that was PACKED with stuff *and* memories. Ultimately, I decided that I would only keep what could fit in a cedar chest that has been in the family for a very long time. I was able to get quite a bit of the more memorable things in it, and made getting rid of everything else a little easier.

That chest now sits in my office (I call it my "heritage room"...Air Force flyers will get it) and I have already opened it a few times to remember the good times. His passing is still very raw, and looking at the items in the chest still bring a tear...but I think as the pain lessens, I will be happy that I will have some stuff of his that I can hold and reminisce about. Once I am gone...well, it won't matter then, so I am not too concerned about it.

I have taken some very sentimental pictures and scanned as well as put in a fire box in case some natural disaster destroys the chest.
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Old 02-01-2019, 11:39 AM   #17
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DHs family just went through this when his mom died last fall. She moved into her house in 2000 and the movers put many boxes in the basement. Some of these boxes were from four moves from house to house since 1960! There was a box with school papers from DH in elementary school. He's the oldest of 5 siblings and there was stuff from everyone's childhood.

When she moved in 2000 it was right after DHs father had died. At the previous house he had an office and the shelves and walls were full of plaques and awards and displays from his professional life. He was so proud of all of these things! After he died and she moved and none of these things were ever unpacked and displayed.

So the family had to decide how to handle all these items when clearing out her home for sale. None of the siblings wanted any of the large items. A few small items were shipped home. There wasn't enough for an estate sale so there was a donation of usable stuff. But these personal things went into the dumpster. Sad, emotional for some, but practical. They all agreed that no one had an obligation to this stuff.

The good news is that the house is under contract and the sale should be completed in a few weeks.

After my Dad died in 2016 I saved the contents of his desk in a couple of storage totes. Later I went though it all and consolidated it all into one medium sized tote that is still with me.
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Old 02-01-2019, 11:50 AM   #18
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Lots of sad memories posted above. Each poster has a realization about what will eventually happen to the "stuff".

Funny, but this morning, DW and I were looking at a closet full of storage boxes of mostly OUR stuff and some stuff kept from the long gone parents. We decided to just leave it all in the boxes and let our children throw most of it out.

One of my boxes had pictures of my Dad (a few) and my tax records going back to 1974. Ugh...

There is no easy answer for this.
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Old 02-01-2019, 12:02 PM   #19
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Since finding unkown-to-us relatives through DNA testing, I've been delighted to get copies of some of their old family photos from the late 1800s and early 1900s. I'm thrilled someone there hung onto them as any such photos in my side of the family did not survive wars, revolutions, and physical relocations.

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Old 02-01-2019, 12:24 PM   #20
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Since finding unkown-to-us relatives through DNA testing, I've been delighted to get copies of some of their old family photos from the late 1800s and early 1900s. I'm thrilled someone there hung onto them as any such photos in my side of the family did not survive wars, revolutions, and physical relocations.

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I love the old photos. I’ve been seeing old yearbooks show up on Ancestry.Com. The names are indexed so they are searchable. If you are into genealogy, you could build a family tree and attach photos, awards, and such. Sites like FamilySearch offer free sign up and access. You could build a tree there and hook it into existing branches that others have built. Then attach what you like and in theory, it would be there “forever”.
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