A recent article on Syracuse.com, "Make records of family heirlooms," offers a good reminder and some advice on making a record of family photographs and keepsakes that are to be handed down through the generations. If you want something to endure, you might want to identify its meaning, otherwise those who follow might not be aware and will make their own executive decisions about its disposal. Hosting the GenealogyToday booth at conferences, I've talked to people that tossed a lot of stuff before the knew its meaning, and lived to regret it.
Now, our family does not have a lot of heirlooms; certainly nothing of great value -- just sentimental stuff, but that in itself does have meaning. For example, I have a pair of gold-dust earrings handed down from my mother. Sounds impressive, but they aren't worth much . . . monetarily. I have a second pair just like them, handed down from my aunt -- they sort of did things in pairs. My aunt was the trail blazer in our family who made her way to Alaska in 1950 with my then teenage brother in tow. Given our family's 60-year (and counting) history in Alaska (including a turn-of-the-nineteenth century gold miner) and these earrings came from there, there is a story to go with the earrings that may add sentimental value, if nothing else. My own children might figure out their meaning without its being in writing, but my grandchildren, not so much. So do put the story in writing, following some of the guidelines suggested in the article. Your posterity will be glad you did.