A Keepsake or a dust collector?

Keepsake: a small item kept in memory of the person who gave it or originally owned it.

What makes an item a keepsake? Is it necessarily small? When is it bestowed with the emotional attachment of keepsake? I have a quite a few things in cabinets, on shelves and dressers, on nightstands and in drawers that are what I consider keepsakes and cherished mementos. I also have tubs, drawers, and closets full of things that have yet to be given memento/keepsake status.

University of Arizona cabinet

I suppose this requires defining the difference between collecting vs pack-rat/hoarding.

Collector: a person who collects things of a specified type, professionally or as a hobby.

     Pack Rat: a person who saves unnecessary objects or hoards things.

I have my own art collection which is primarily art from individuals I am acquainted with, for example my aunt,


my cousin, my nephew’s best friend, the photographer I met in Greer, AZ, the dear friend who passed away. But I do have things that have enormous emotional value like the old radio from hubby’s grandfather,

or the copper plaque presented to my father-in-law by his community when he moved from Kearny AZ to Soda Springs ID. Also the items from my fathers time as a volunteer with the University of Arizona football team.


I’m sure most people place emotional value and attachment to photos. We have a cabinet full of photos. I teased my husband that if there was ever a fire threatening our home it would take his truck to get all the pictures and valuables out of our house.


Some small things that mean a lot to me are in a little jewelry box from my grandmother. An arrowhead my Papaw found and gave me, the broach given to my Nannie by my aunt, and her costume jewelry pieces I remember her wearing. I also have the shell casings from the twenty one gun salute for my father’s military funeral.

These are things I can tell a story about and share with the generations to come. I am fortunate to be part of a family who are close and value family connections, even if we are spread around the country.


We bought a tall cabinet a while back that has a lighted glass case on top and an enclosed bottom. I call it the museum. In the top part are collectible items we’ve obtained from travels, hubby’s camera collection, and sweet things like a hummingbirds nest, and sea shells.

After living in Japan I have this idea of “space is clean” and order gives peace. Clearing clutter feels good. If there is a place to store something then that’s where it goes!

Are you a collector of keepsakes or a pack rat hoarding things that aren’t necessary? What do you do with your collections?






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