What does it mean to ‘honor’ mementos?

beastieWe talk a great deal about “honoring” the mementos you chose to keep in your home. This exact word we picked up from Peter Walsh, but it’s a concept most everyone in the organization business has understood for years. In short, when we say that you should “honor” your mementos, we mean that if you’re going to the trouble of keeping something in your home, you should at least treat that item with respect. Being shoved in a messy closet, typically, is not honoring an object.

How you chose to honor something is a personal choice and full of seemingly endless possibilities. I thought that I would discuss one of my collections to give you an idea of how you could choose to honor something in your home. My example is concert posters.

When I was in journalism school working on my undergraduate degree, I was convinced I was going to be the next Cameron Crowe. I interviewed every band that came through town (Everclear, Jackopierce, mid-1990s groups) and every legend who set foot on campus (Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Patty Smith, Debbie Harry). When I wasn’t in class, I worked as a disc jockey for the local commercial station and had an internship with the company that booked all of the shows at the region’s concert amphitheater. In my mind, there was nothing standing between me and being the next Editor-in-Chief of Rolling Stone.

I was exactly like most people in their early twenties. I was trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to grow to become. I still love music, though, and it will always be a part of me. Plus, if I hadn’t gone through my Cameron Crowe-obsession stage in college, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

So, how do I respect those memories? I frame them. I put concert posters in ridiculously ornate frames and hang them in my hallway. They’re fun. They make me smile. And, most importantly, they’re treated with respect and honored in a way appropriate to their memory.

I don’t have concert posters from every show I’ve attended. I only have kept those that are the most important to me. The one in the photograph above is from a secret concert the Beastie Boys performed a number of years ago in DC. Bad weather delayed the band so they bought pizza for everyone who stuck around to hear them play. By the time they went on stage, only a hundred or so people were still at the venue. I saw the show with one of my closest friends and it felt like we were watching the band at a small house party. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I framed the poster from the show and hung it on my hallway wall in tribute to that night.


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

9 Comments for “What does it mean to ‘honor’ mementos?”

  1. posted by Louie on

    Hi Erin,

    I sent an email through the comments page, but it read “closed for comments…” not sure if my note went through so Im repeating here:

    Check out:

    “The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard,”

    I think you guys will love it.

    In uncluttering solidarity,

  2. posted by Robert on


    Medium time reader, first time poster:

    I also believe in honoring the “stuff” kept around as memorabilia (is that the right usage?), and would propose that in addition to displaying the things you have, you can also just store the properly (acid free boxes, maybe laminated with UV filtering plastic, etc.) and setting them up in a well organized storage location. Storing them with respect keeps them out of the way, but preserves them for later reminiscing or exhibiting.

    Not everyone has the inclination, but perhaps rotate the stuff that they can display, once a month or quarter, so that it gets out and gets seen. Create a periodic calendar entry on your calendar, and just work your way down the list (you do keep a list of your memorobilia/collectibles for insurance purposed, right????).

    Maybe it’s overkill, but I am sure someone has said something similar to: if it’s not worth going through some trouble to keep, it’s not worth keeping.



  3. posted by Kate Murphy on

    For a lot of us, we are our stuff. Or at least our music, or our more heady books, or our family photos, or whatever mementos of life we love to see on our mantels. And then comes the day, someday, when we are forced to downsize as a senior or perhaps the day we die. Someone is going to have to deal with all these small items. It is a challenge. Not just for the time and effort it takes to box them up and move them somewhere else — whether to someone who treasures them, to someone who re-sells them, or to trash — but it is hard because the person doing this knows they are tearing apart the fabric of who we are/were.

    I’m not suggesting we all strip down monk like on our own watch rather than leave it to someone else. I just think we can be more mindful when we add to our collections.

  4. posted by Colleen Olson on

    I like the idea of making displays of your memorabilia. You are right, what good does it do packed away in a box. I saw an artist recently on Etsy.com who photographs her memorabilia in artistic arrangements and sells them, another good idea. I am going to go through my stuff and either display it, photograph it or get rid of it if it has lost its meaning. =) Thanks for the inspiration. And Happy New year!

  5. posted by Megan @ Disorder2Order on

    Great post… regular reader… first time poster! I have to say that I have really enjoyed your blog. I agree with you on every word!

    What is so funny about “honoring” is that most people, once realizing that they are not honoring what they love find they don’t really know if they love what they have.

    We really start to define who we are by what we have in our home… then, life becomes simplified!

    Thank you for a great post!

  6. posted by Tyler on

    I’m currently in the process of ‘honoring’ some mementos. I found a ticket album over at UnCommon Goods, where I can store all my old concert ticket stubs.

    I’m also going to frame my horror movie posters – in a tasteful way, of course – and Dean’s List certificates and hang them in my office.

    Great Post. Thanks so much.

  7. posted by Rachel on

    I was at that show! Summer 2004! I remember how happy everyone was when they announced they were buying us pizza.

  8. posted by Anrey Wang on

    This was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for the great article and loads of inspiration. I was never too sure what to do with all my mementos, and now it’s finally hit me! Thanks!

  9. posted by Andy @ Simplicity on

    Great idea. I have a number of collections of things around the house. Over the next few months I will strive to:

    * take photos and discard (give, throw or sell) the collections I don’t want
    * take pride in the few sets of mementos I keep and display in an interesting way 🙂

    Many thanks, I’d never thought of doing this – really, I hadn’t!

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