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Time Travel for Baby: Making A Time Capsule or Memory Box for Newborns – Part I
Help the new mom out with something truly unique – a time capsule/memory box. Booties, rattles and stuffed animals are expected gifts for the new baby. But how’s she supposed to react when she receives her fifth knitted hat or fourth teddy bear at the baby shower? With polite but forced enthusiasm? With the unexpressed hope that the next present won’t duplicate the previous dozen? The time capsule will be a one-of-a-kind gift.
© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin
Time capsule is a fancy term for a collection of ordinary things, gathered on the baby’s birthday, that will be revealed at an arbitrary future date:
- a newspaper, definitely
- a screen grab of a current website
- a video of the newborn coming home
- a recording of dad announcing the birthday on the home answering machine
- magazines documenting current styles in fashion, furniture and society
- flyers from the grocery store documenting prices
- a diecast model of a contemporary car
- flowers from the backyard pressed into a blotter
- family tree or personal scrapbook
- cards from well-wishers
- anything to evoke Day One when the recipient is 21, 30 or 55.
The jaded can argue that all this information will be available on the future version of the Internet: the newborn can research the past at will. But digital versions are easy to change and thus, always suspect. With a run-of-the-mill word processor, art program or media editor, anybody can alter text, add people to images or delete unwanted episodes from video. Who knows how many people have broken into the Internet archive to rewrite history to their specifications?
Tangible objects like brochures, books, artwork or pieces of clothing, cannot be changed without obvious distortion. So the only way that baby can be sure that the news was exactly like it was on his or her birthday is to read it from a printed newspaper.
The number one requirement for the time capsule is durability. The container must survive the years. This isn’t much of a problem if mom and dad stores it in an interior space, such as the corner of a closet or a high bookshelf.
- A hand-decorated cardboard box serves nicely for such situations.
- But for storage in garages or attics, something more weatherproof is needed. Maybe a plastic or stainless steel box that can weather temperature changes.
- Under no circumstances, should the gift be kept underground. Even professionally manufactured, scientifically sealed capsules have been known to break outdoors, with their contents eaten away by mold and insects. Even worse, the location simply disappears from memory, losing the capsule to history.