What College Freshmen Said They’d Keep Forever

After our project on how advertisers persuade us to purchase a whole array of non-essential items, I ask my students to name one thing they’ll keep forever.

Baby blankets (some brought them to college)
Military dog tags
Jewelry given from parents or grandparents
Musical instruments

Not one student mentions anything related to trendy clothing or technology.  Nobody claims any attachment to their phones (we’re addicted, not attached!), their laptops, their purses, or their toys.

I realize that most things I’m tempted to purchase for my children have no lasting value.  What does?  Simple fabric objects of attachment, emblems of service to our nation, symbols of love passed down from generations before, musical instruments, and experiences captured on film.

If we pare down and trim off the excess of our lives, we’ll find what really matters.  As I raise my daughters in a world saturated with stuff, I might ask myself before I buy it, “Will they keep this forever?  What would this purchase symbolize?  Can it be an emblem? An experience?  A musical object?”

My students’ answers remind me of what I love and value.

Journal:  What do you own that you’ll keep forever?

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  1. My antique bowls, one from each parent's family; some photos, a sweater from each parent, and my dogs (though most would need to find new homes quickly). Oh, perhaps a change of clothes – HA. Books I would miss but they are at the library; same with my computer. Phones are replaceable if really needed.
    I would also keep and enhance my health – it is precarious in some regards already – and my family, who have already said they would take me in if necessary. And my friends :).

  2. what a relevant question – giving the flooding in parts of PA and NY, where families have to evacuate their homes. I've often thought about that question – if our house was on fire (or being flooded), what would I risk my life to rescue from the house. Mostly it would be our photo albums, boxes of pictures, (or the computer with all of the digital photo albums), and my lab notebooks. It is a useful question to ask every once in a while: among all of my clutter, what is really important? What things can I not do without.