How Cracking Open A Time Capsule Reveals True Value

My sister has been kind enough to store some “stuff” for me for many years, and she recently encouraged me to revisit just what the heck was lurking in her crawlspace on my behalf.

Consequently, I now have a bunch of “stuff” strewn across my family room, and I’ve been busy playing the game of “keep or toss.”

When my son was around 9 and I was persuading him to donate some of the toys he hadn’t played with in months (or years), he was awfully reluctant and firmly stated, “Mom…you know I’m sentimental…”

Let’s just say I know where he gets it from.


fisher price memories


While I’ve been doing a serious amount of common sense purging of crappola around our house, seeing what was stored away for years reflected quite a bit of sentimentality on my part, too. The “keep or toss” game gets a little harder when you’re deciding what to do with something you’ve had for 30 years versus three.

Complicating the decision making process is the notion that some things may actually be valuable. After an incident years ago where I hastily sold a terrifying clown painting that haunted me most of my childhood—only to learn later that it was probably worth a lot more than I let it go for—I’ve learned to check. (Damn that clown for having the last laugh!)

And, while there are some collectibles in the mix that might be worth a (very) small pile of cash, it got me thinking about the true value of these treasures I chose to store.

Money vs Memory

There’s a reason that the old Visa “priceless” campaign worked so well. We understand monetary value—and we also know that what really matters isn’t the money itself. The money is merely the conduit to the experiences that are the real gold.

Seeing what made the “cut” for what in some ways is my own personal time capsule is telling. I’m not sure why some mementos made it in and others didn’t, but as I dig through the various artifacts of my life, I get to see glimpses of my younger self.




Once I hit the gold of scrapbooks and yearbooks, the excavation downshifted significantly. Those are immensely more valuable to me than something I could get a few bucks for on ebay.


Dad card
my dad kept this card from me…so I am, too


Some memories greeted me like old friends, while a few things felt like I was learning about another person. Being able to read descriptions of myself through the eyes of friends and teachers was (thankfully) a nice boost to my spirit. A diary from my sophomore year in high school shared thoughts that were sweet…and sad. Knowing myself better at this stage in life, I look back and understand why those feelings existed. I’m able to put meaning around them that I was blind to at the time. That girl didn’t know it yet, but she had quite a challenging journey ahead of her (and she’s not done yet).

My excavation is far from complete. I’m curious to see what other gems are contained within the capsule that is a representation of my younger self.

For some of the relics, time was unkind…


scary doll
nightmare alert


barbie breakdown
I wonder if someone would give an arm and a leg for these

For others, it was like embracing old, dear friends…


curious george-teddy bear-koala bear


Among other things, a slew of letters awaits me the next time I’m ready to dig again, including ones from my dad when I was away at college. Priceless indeed.

Though much of what was stored away no longer makes sense to keep (I can’t even tell you what I had stored in an old peanut butter jar…), the sentimental me will continue to hang onto a chunk of the “stuff” that reflects a part of who I was long ago.

Sure…it would be great to find an accidental stash of cash in one of those boxes or learn that a thing or two is worth a great deal of money—for it to hold that kind of value—but the reality is that much of what lies within is already invaluable…at least to me.



All photos are my own.
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5 thoughts on “How Cracking Open A Time Capsule Reveals True Value

  1. I’m a sentimental person too, Lisa. I have been compelled to sell most of my childhood things, but I kept some of my home-sewn doll clothes my mother made, a few animals, etc. What a sweet letter you wrote for your dad. He must have loved that.

  2. I can’t believe you mentioned the peanut butter jar!!!! No charge for the trip down memory lane I pushed you down!

  3. Gets one thinking….
    I’m a bit of a hoarder too, and sentimental with it.
    I still have a box of letters from more than fifty years ago. They are the letters my boyfriend and I wrote to one another when I was away at college. But it’s been okay to keep them – I married the boy ❤️

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