My son Sam had his 2nd birthday on October 11 and it was so much fun! Sam is the only "baby" in our family at the moment (the next one closest to him in age is my stepdaughter Emily, and she's 11), so Sam really gets doted on...who am I kidding, we spoil him rotten.
Anyway, after a couple of weeks, the dust has settled and the multitude of new toys have found their place in various spots around the hous, The new clothes have been untagged, washed and put away, and even though Elmo still hangs on the wall and the Sesame Street balloons are still floating through my living room, our house has somewhat returned to it's pre-birthday party state.
So, tonight I sat down to write my thank you cards. As I've gotten older, I've learned to appreciate the small things and I've turned into a big believer in hand-written thank you cards... cards in general actually. I get this from my mother who sends cards to everyone for every occassion (she sends out her Christmas cards in November!). The truth is, we all love to receive mail that isn't bills. Even though my 69 year old mother is on Facebook and has her own email account, snail mail is her forte and frankly, I'm enjoying carrying on this particular tradition.
I have a horrible memory (just ask my husband) so when receiving gifts I like to write the gift received in the card that it (normally) comes with. This task accomplishes many things for me. First, I love re-reading all the cards after everyone is gone so I can concentrate on the thoughtfulness of the card. Some people put a lot of thought and effort into choosing the right card (I am one of those people), so I feel the need to give the card my full attention. Second, sometimes the gift opening happens so fast that I tend to miss a lot of what happened, who gave what, etc. Third, sometimes gifts get misplaced amid the chaos, so it's a good way to keep things organized until I can sort it all out at a later time (especially gift cards or gifts of money). The last reason, and most important reason for me, is so I can personalize the thank you cards.
The question is, now what do I do with the birthday cards? I've read them twice, used them to write the thank you notes, and now what? Do I keep them? Do I throw them out? This is an ongoing dilemma for me... the problem of "keepsakes". What is worth keeping for Sam and what isn't? I'm not into keeping many things, except maybe pictures. I believe my mom has one bin of my "stuff" from growning up, but I think I threw out everything else. Do I regret not keeping some of my old things like my high school cheerleading uniform? Some days yes, but most days no. However, I'm feeling very conflicted on what to do with Sam's stuff. Will he hate me when he's 40 and he realizes that I didn't keep every single card he ever received? I don't think so, but what if...? When he's gone away to college, will I regret not having these things to look back on? I just don't know.
I have kept a few things of his. For example, I kept his baby blanket from the hospital and the hair they had to shave off his head in the NICU when they put the tubes in. I've kept his Baptism outfit, the first picture Emily drew for Sam, and the first picture Sam painted in nursery school. I have also kept all the cards from his 1st Birthday. But do I really need to keep the cards from every birthday?? I had to make make a decision and ultimately they went in the trash. Let the guilt set in...