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Find out more about A Little Something, a powerful story about the special keepsakes a grandmother shares with her granddaughter

Find out about the true story behind A Little Something

Download now: Illustration Slides to use with A Little Something


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Family treasures link generations in a very deep, personal way

Keepsakes make us feel connected to each other, the past, and the future. They are meaningful, unique gifts and a way to build closer bonds across generations.

Keepsakes can be big or small, expensive or inexpensive. A keepsake's value isn't intrinsic, but is tied to the meaning we give the object. A keepsake is anything that has a personal or emotional connection.

Heart Cushion Keepsake illustration ©Laurie McGaw from A Little Something by Susan V. Bosak

There was an Ann Landers column that dealt with keepsakes. It began with a poignant story of a woman whose treasures from her grandmother had been thrown away. Later in the column was a letter from another reader: "When a relative of mine died, I was given some cash and told to select an item as a keepsake. I chose her beat-up old potato masher. The cash is gone now, but every time I use that potato masher, I think of my relative and smile."

Some might say that the whole idea of keepsakes puts too much emphasis on the material things in life. But the value of a keepsake has little to do with its monetary value. At the same time, the items we find important enough to spend money on or important enough to protect and pass on help define who we are. They speak to our values and tell stories about the past that help to enrich the future.

Familiar objects also provide a sense of continuing pleasure, satisfaction, comfort, and security. They can help us keep our bearings, especially if our world is changing quickly. As we change and age over time, the material objects in our life do not. We choose from a lifetime of objects those possessions we wish to save for ourselves as a kind of bequest to ourselves.

A keepsake is something that evokes powerful feelings. Its meaning lies in the story behind it. So often, though, the stories behind items are lost. Which is why it's important to preserve not only keepsakes themselves, but the stories that go with them. Whenever you give a keepsake, particularly an item with a family history to it, make sure you share the story behind it. Write down the story in a note when you pass along the keepsake. Is it a ring your father gave to your mother? A quilt your great-grandmother made? Where did the item come from? Why is it important? Stories are what bring objects alive. That's the real power of a keepsake – what it means in the context of your life story.

Here are seven top keepsake ideas from the Legacy Project:

  1. Start With Story: A Little Something by
    Susan V. Bosak, with illustrations by Laurie McGaw, is a heartwarming bestseller about love and legacies across generations. The story follows the special keepsakes a grandmother gives her granddaughter through the years. Share the story with young and old – children and grandchildren, mothers and grandmothers. You can also give the book with a personal keepsake, or use it to prompt stories about your own family keepsakes.

A Little Something
  1. Give Keepsakes Old & New: It may be the necklace from your great-grandmother, the ornament you made yourself, or the special figurine you searched for across the city. The important thing when you give a keepsake is to explain – or better yet write down – the story behind it. Where did it come from? Why is it important? That's what brings the object alive. Print the story on special paper, even have it framed or secure it in a special pouch that's attached to a box that holds the keepsake.

  1. Bestow Your Furniture: Assign a special piece of furniture to each of your children and grandchildren. It makes both young children and adults feel special and remembered. It's also like giving twice – now and in the future.

  1. Start a Collection: Whether it's stamps, maps, shells, rocks, coins, baseball cards, comic books, or miniatures, a family collection is something you can add to over time. It becomes a shared interest all ages can enjoy and talk about.

  1. Cook It Up: A special recipe can become a treasured keepsake. Over the holidays or during a summer family reunion, get the whole family together to learn how to make a family favorite. As you're cooking, write out exactly how to make the recipe, including a title that ties the recipe to the family member who made it (e.g. Grandma Ann's Honey Cake), yield, list of ingredients with measurements, and preparation instructions.

  1. Hang "Best Memory" Ornaments: At the holidays, each person writes out their best memory of each family member from the past year. Brightly decorate the outside of the notes (or write the notes on wrapping paper), roll them up (secured with a small bit of tape), and use gold thread through the center to hang them on the Christmas tree. On Christmas day, open and read the notes aloud. Collect each year's notes in a scrapbook.

  1. Make a Family Time Capsule: Make a time capsule an annual tradition in your family. Each year, include items that represent the past year for your family – schoolwork, photos, greeting cards, letters, handwritten family stories or a video of people sharing memories, and anything else you can think of. Put all the items in a container, mark it with the year, and store it in a safe place. Each holiday, you can look back on mementoes from past years.


Children like the hottest "new" stuff, but they also have a real need for "old stuff" that connects them to their family and its history. In the short term, keepsakes create an immediate sense of connection. Over the years, they become a powerful symbol of that connection.

Keepsakes evoke memories and feelings. They also make us feel part of something bigger. They are a critical part of a living family legacy. Summed up one precocious little girl, "My grandma gave my mom a very beautiful ring, and someday she's going to give it to me, and someday I'll give it to my daughter. That's the way you make history." Yes, indeed.

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