The trinkets and mementos I gather are physical reminders of what my mind already knows. They elicit the warm feelings, the excitement, or whatever emotion I felt at the time I acquired the trinkets. To me, the mementos have the value of that special moment. But will my children treasure them as I do? They can't experience what I felt. Yet, the value of the thing is greatly enhanced by the back story, the "provenance", as Antique Road Show calls it. I can tell my children the stories and maybe they will gain an understanding and appreciation of who I am. Isn't that why we write memoirs?
Photos serve the same purpose as souvenirs and trinkets. They remind us of special times. Do we really remember all those vacation moments, or is it only the moments we photographed that stay in memory? Without photos to remind us of slender bodies and once-stylish haircuts and bellbottoms, can we go back in our minds' eye to "how we were?"
Memories are the archaeology of the mind. We are sometimes surprised by what comes floating unbidden to the surface for us to rediscover. What remains hidden requires concentrated effort to dig down and reconstruct a time and place and the meaning of our time there. What happens when our mind no longer retains the original memory? Will the photos and mementos remind us of what we no longer know?
I'll treasure the memories while I can and leave the mementos for others to discover and wonder.