Creating a time capsule is a great way to preserve precious memories for future generations. In 2004, we celebrated my granddaughter’s first birthday by creating a time capsule for her. We asked family members to bring an item to her first birthday party to put into the time capsule and include a note explaining why they chose the item. The note of explanation helps the child understand the contents and put the item in context when the time capsule is eventually opened. My son-in-law sealed all the treasures in a five-gallon paint bucket and wrote “Do Not Open Until April 26, 2016.”
The year 2016 seemed like such a long way off when we sealed the time capsule in 2004. In what felt like the blink of an eye, my granddaughter’s 13th birthday arrived last weekend. Our family eagerly anticipated the opening of her time capsule and by the end of the celebration there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
As we gathered around Juliet, she opened the lid of the time capsule and took out the items one by one reading each note that accompanied them. There were so many wonderful treasures we’d long since forgotten that sparked our memories of that first birthday party. The first things she took out were the decorations, banners and candle from her first birthday party. Some of the other items from the time capsule included:
- From paternal grandpa: A coin tube containing $13 — one for each year. He wrote that the silver dollars were from her two great-grandmas and the two well-worn good luck $2 bills he carried in his wallet for many years and hoped they would bring her much good luck.
- From maternal grandma: A letter and photo album titled: “My First Year of Firsts” with pictures of her meeting different family members, first holidays, and first milestones.
- From her great aunt: A letter describing some trends, fashions and technology at the time and a prophetic ending line: Who knows? On your 13th birthday a woman may be President!
- From her maternal great-grandma: Two photos of her namesake—her great-grandma Juliet as a 17-year old in 1939 and her great-great-great grandma Juliet as a young woman in 1865.
- From her paternal great-grandma: A photo of herself as a young woman with her husband explaining how they met.
- From her paternal grandma: Two photos of Juliet’s dad when he was an infant and when he was 13.
- From her paternal grandpa: A rock he painted to look like a raccoon.
- From her mother: A letter telling her how much she loved her and a cassette tape of all the songs she sang to her as a baby.
- From her father: A letter with a Chinese fortune attached that symbolized his feelings for his daughter—Someone is looking up to you. Don’t let that person down.
The time capsule also included a newspaper from April 26, 2004 and a touching letter from her great uncle describing stories of her great uncle who passed away before Juliet was born.
Opening that time capsule was such a magical moment and full of so many emotions—joy in being together, sadness for the family members who are no longer with us, anticipation for the future, and a sense of awe that the little baby who inspired us to collect all these treasures was now a beautiful and loving teenager.
I encourage you to create a time capsule for your children or grandchildren. The payoff is worth the effort and gives your family a lasting treasure for preserving memories. There are lots of different options for creating your own container or you can use this Baby’s Time Capsule, which includes everything you need.