When Abby Van Metre turned 18, she wanted an iPhone. Instead, she got ... a box?

She remembers plopping down on the living room floor of her Cedar Rapids, Iowa, home a few days after her birthday, next to her dog, and staring at the aged brown container. It had been her great-great-aunt's jewelry box. It was over 100 years old and had been passed down to Abby's grandma and, now, to Abby.

But she didn't know what was inside.


Her parents explained that the box was a time capsule filled with letters and keepsakes from Abby's 1st birthday. It had never been opened.

All photos via Abby Van Metre, used with permission.

Instead of gifts, everyone in her family had written young Abby a card or a letter. They also stuffed the box with some newspapers from 1999 and other keepsakes. Then, her parents tucked it away for 17 years. Abby never even knew it existed.

As she started to go through the time capsule's contents, including letters from close relatives who had since passed away, Abby was overcome with emotion.

"I started crying. It was happiness. It wasn't sadness at all," she said. "It was sheer happiness that I got one more conversation with loved ones, one more 'I love you,' one more piece of advice."

One letter, from her uncle who was killed in a car accident three years ago, hit Abby particularly hard.

"It was just a very visceral thing for me, and the moment I started reading it, I couldn't handle it. It was like I was talking to him," she said.

Other letters were lighthearted glimpses into the past.

Abby said one of her cousins — whom she describes as a "big burly Marine" — was 7 when he wrote her a letter for the time capsule.

"In his letter, he attached his favorite Pokemon card, and in his letter he says, 'When you open this, can I please have that back?'"

Abby's mom filmed the whole thing and posted it to Facebook, where it quickly went viral.

"She said, 'Don't worry, it'll just go to my 300 Facebook friends,'" Abby recalled.

When they checked a few days later, the post had racked up millions of views, shares, and comments from around the world.

Letters from Heaven. This week Abby turned 18. For her 1st birthday we asked all our loved ones to write her a letter...

Posted by Susie Aldershof Van Metre on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"It really put things in perspective for me," Abby said.

"Like, sure, I'd love to have 100 boxes of presents to open and expensive things. But, in reality, I wouldn't trade this gift my parents gave me for anything."

Right now, the box is in Abby's kitchen, where she said she's still going through the letters, two or three at a time, to make sure she's absorbed every word and every ounce of love.

And for the rest of us who wish we'd thought of this ourselves, Abby's story serves as a powerful reminder that, years from now, what we'll value most is the time we shared and the memories we created with our loved ones.

Even if the only place we have to keep them is our hearts.

Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

woman laying on bed

I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Inattentive Type about three years ago—I was a fully functioning adult, married with children before finding out that my brain worked a bit differently. Of course I've known that I functioned a bit differently than my friends since childhood. The signs were there early on, but in the '80s diagnosing a girl with ADHD just wasn’t a thing that happened.

Much of the early criteria for ADHD was written based on how it presented in males, more specifically, white male children, and I was neither. Women like me are being diagnosed more and more lately and it’s likely because social media has connected us in a way that was lacking pre- doom scrolling days.

With the help of social media, women can connect with others who share the same symptoms that were once a source of shame. They can learn what testing to ask for and how to advocate for themselves while having an army of supporters that you’ve never met to encourage you along the way. A lot of women that are diagnosed later in life don’t want medication, they just want an answer. Finally having an answer is what nearly brought me to tears. I wasn’t lazy and forgetful because I didn’t care. I had a neurological disorder that severely impacted my ability to pay attention to detail and organize tasks from most important to least. Just having the answer was a game changer, but hearing that untreated ADHD can cause unchecked anxiety, which I had in spades, I decided to listen to my doctor and give medication a try.

Keep Reading Show less

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

Keep Reading Show less