The turkey’s in the oven and my uncle is passed out in front of the TV. I head to my room to pass the time until dinner’s ready (which happens at 3:42PM every year without fail, because we eat whenever the turkey’s done, and no matter when we begin cooking the bird, it will finish at 3:42PM on the dot). After some aimless rifling around, I stumble upon a literal time capsule: a green IKEA storage box filled with everything from old letters and mix CDs to prom photos.
My mom, wary from a lifetime of packing and moving, is obsessed with throwing out anything that doesn’t immediately declare itself as useful. She’s the OG Marie Kondo before Kondo-ing ever became a thing. Unfortunately, this makes my personal sentimental goods vulnerable targets to her purging, and every visit home is filled with at least one argument centered around her trying to throw away my high school yearbooks. (“There’s four of them,” she says.)
The box, I decide, will be added to the diminutive collection of things I’ll always fight to keep. The list is as follows:
Space Jam on VHS
We really have no means of watching this as we don’t even have a VHS player at home anymore, but I’ll never turn my back on Michael and the Toon Squad. I’ll keep this for as long as I have to — better yet, I’m giving this to my unborn daughter on her wedding day.
Old-school board games made with real wood
Forget your hip, modern board games. Cards Against Humanity who? King of Tokyo what? We have a strict policy in the Lee household where we only play games invented before the polio vaccine. It really limits the scope of our get-together activities, but we typically play traditional Korean games like Yutnori and Go-stop anyway, so it works out.
We have an ancient wooden Chinese checkers board and a vintage Rummikub set made in Israel that I cherish very much, but not enough to warrant bringing back with me because these guys are weighty. I bought the Rummikub set off of eBay when I was going through a heavy (nerdy) board game phase, and it’s probably best to keep it at home because no one will play it with me anyway.
Just once my parents dipped their toes into the stream of plastic board games. When I was six, they bought us the nifty contraption board game known as Mouse Trap. If you’re not familiar with Mouse Trap, it’s basically a gamified Rube Goldberg machine — so, a small child’s dream. As we were setting it up, we realized the game was missing some pieces, so my parents took it back to the store and exchanged it for chess. Now that I’m older, I realize the timeless, classic appeal of a game of chess — nope, can’t do it, I’m still pretty mad at them about this one.
Ya goofed on this one, parents!
(PS Just kidding about King of Tokyo, it’s actually super fun! I’d be happy if Cards Against Humanity disappeared forever though. It’s 2edgy4me!)
My entire, vast collection of seven CDs
I had about two good years of listening to music on CDs before I got my first mp3 player (The ridiculously named 1GB Samsung YEPP). Those were the golden years, though. I consider my Now That’s What I Call Music! 5 and 1997 Grammy Nominees Compilation album valuable artifacts, but they can’t hold a Bath and Body Works candle to my most prized possession: a promotional CD called *NSYNC / Britney Spears – Your #1 Requests...And More! which I acquired from McDonald’s in what could arguably be called the greatest Happy Meal toy of all time.
Game Boy Color
I’m including my Game Boy Color here even though my mom sold it for $10 at our garage sale and I will never forgive her. At the time I said it was okay because I was preoccupied with pre-teen things, like not being bullied by boys. But now I see what a fool I was. I remember the exact moment I messed up, too: she put the Game Boy Color in a Ziploc bag, along with all of the games I had (Pokémon Pinball, Conker’s Pocket Tales, among a few others) to sell them as a set.
Whoever bought that Ziploc bag, I hope you’re happy. I really do.
BONUS: Old photo albums
I blinked in my 6th grade school photo and did not know this is what became of the image until the last time I visited home. Thanks, mom!
Going home to your roots always serves as a reminder of what’s really important: our material possessions. Also, family.
Do you shamelessly take advantage of your parents’ place, converting it into your own personal storage unit? Please share your findings from your holiday trips back home in the comments!