November 15, 2023

K is for Keepsakes by Carol Harrison


K is for Keepsakes

Do you have keepsakes, family memorabilia, or special trinkets displayed in your home? Maybe they are tucked away instead of out gathering dust. Do you know the story behind the piece. Many will have a story you think of every time you look at the piece. When someone asks you the significance or why you have the piece, what do you tell them? Other questions you might ask yourself include:

1.     Why was that piece kept?

2.     How did you end up with it?

3.     Why do you keep it?

4.     Does it inspire a story?

 I happen to have a number of these types of pieces displayed in my home and some packed away. I enjoy looking at them but I like the stories associated with them even more. My children remind me that I need to jot the stories down so they will know the significance if I am no longer here to tell them. I plan to do that. Someday.

When we think of old photos in a box, we think of story or research possibilities for a story. After all, a photo gives you a representation of an era, of clothing, of houses, cars, or even family pets. Even if we don’t know who the people are in the photo anymore because no one has written details on the back, we can put it in a research pile.

One photo I have is from the early 1900’s. It is a studio portrait which means the person was significant to someone and had the funds to pay for the professional photo. I found it in my grandmother’s photos after she passed away. I had never seen it before. In fact none of the family could remember seeing it or hearing any details about it. We turned it over and found a faint white marking on the back. It said, “Roy’s fianc√©”. Roy was my grandfather but this photo was not my grandmother. Who was this person? When had grandpa been engaged to her? Why did they break up? I longed for more information but then thought about how there could be a story to be told based on one photo. A project for sometime.

But what about those other pieces. It may be an ornament, a teapot, an autograph book, or anything else that you’ve kept and has a story to attach to it. What can you do with those stories?

I have one pair of little ornamental china shoes that sparked a devotional. I called it Broken but Loved.

A little pair of white, ornamental china shoes decorated with pink and blue china roses sat on the shelf to be admired. Years ago they had been a gift from two daughters to their mother. Then one day, Grandpa used them to entertain Lainey, the first grandchild. He decided to dress up her doll in the best finery he could find. He took down those special china shoes and tried to place one on the doll's foot. It did not fit. He kept pressing, trying to make it work. Suddenly, the shoe lay in pieces, totally ruined. He would have to throw it out. But Grandma picked up the broken pieces. Carefully, piece by piece, she restored the shoe to its original shape. She placed the pair of china shoes back on the shelf. One shoe's perfectness sat in stark contrast to the cracks where the pieces had been painstakingly glued together, marring the other little shoe. 

            Years passed. The glue in the cracks turned brown with age. Grandpa passed away. Lainey grew up and had children of her own. Grandma repeated the story many times. More years passed. Grandma became old and planned to move to a small apartment. As she sorted through her things and the lifetime of memories they represented, she took the china shoes from the shelf and offered them to Lainey, at least the good shoe. Grandma thought she should have thrown away the other one years ago but she had never been able to do it. Maybe now was the time.

            Lainey insisted the pair stay together just as she remembered them. Together they represented a story that would not be the same without both shoes. Grandma gave Lainey a huge hug and the pair of little china shoes.

            Many more years have passed. Grandma is no longer here but those china shoes sit on a shelf in Lainey's home. The story is still told of the broken shoe mended in love.

             God wants to mend each of us just as Grandma did that little shoe. We are imperfect, broken vessels, but God doesn't throw us away. He waits patiently for us to bring the broken pieces of our lives to Him. Then He takes those pieces and lovingly mends them with His love, mercy and forgiveness.

            As we look at the mends in our lives, we see the brown of the glue, the imperfections, but God sees us like the first little unbroken shoe, whole and perfect. Every sin, flaw and imperfection are covered by the blood Jesus shed for us on the cross. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

            In our brokenness we are deeply loved by God.


Whatever stories, devotionals, research ideas, or poems might come from the keepsakes you have, need to be written down for future generations or even to encourage someone else. K is for keepsakes and the stories they spark.

Carol Harrison loves to listen to and tell stories from her home in Saskatoon, SK. She's working at recording some of the family stories from the keepsakes that decorate her house. Sometimes they get shared beyond the family.


  1. Your devotional about the China shoes is so lovely and a wonderful example of how we should be writing down our stories. It reminds me of a workshop from one of our virtual Fall Conferences. The workshop leader talked about using special objects or photos as the centrepiece of our memoirs as we write our stories down. It is an important legacy , but unfortunately, as you implied, often one that we think we'll do 'someday"...

  2. What a lovely story of redemption, dear Carol. Grace and love made the broken shoe more beautiful than it was before the accident.
    God is so good.
    Your post sparked curiosity in me. I ran to check if I still had a keepsake of my dad's in my desk. It was there. It survived a recent decluttering.

  3. Anonymous1:11 pm GMT-7

    This little story is excellent on so many counts. It’s so poignant. It’s a reminder of the things we have that we never remember to share. It’s the way that guy changes us. It’s just lovely thank you Brenda Wood.

  4. You are a great story teller, Carol. Your story reminded of a saying I heard years ago, "God don't make no junk." Thank you for telling us about the story behind the little shoes.

  5. Thank you, Carol, for this lovely story. You just sparked an angle on a story i want to finish on the heritage of quilt making that's been passed down from generation to generation in our family--including my own quilting.

  6. Thanks for this wonderful post, Carol. I have been thinking about writing down our stories for family keepsakes as well. Someday. Praising the Lord that he restores broken vessels like us.


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