Objects can hold a lot of power over a person's memory.
That little plastic ring can remind you of a day at the arcade with your family. Or a whistle can remind you of your great-grandmother and her emigration to the United States.
There's an endless list of reasons why an object can be sentimental.
Here were some of those answers.
A Glimpse Into A Life
When I was in Arizona two years ago I bought a metal spider sculpture off of an old man outside a dingy side of the road wild west travelers stop. As a receipt he gave me a wallet size printed picture of him sitting proudly atop a horse, with a big white cowboy hat and he signed the back and wrote the dollar amount. I still have his picture in my wallet today
Good Ole Hal
A small marble turtle I named Harold In December of 2015 my family went to the Bahamas where I got Harold for $2 and I immediately put him in my pocket, a few days later I had forgotten he was there, but I was like nah can't take him out now he's already been there for 3 days. Flash forward to now and I still keep him in my pocket always, almost getting to 4 years. If he's not in my pocket I have get really anxious and worried about him, even though he's inanimate
A Lock Beyond Death
I have a key on my key chain that isn't mine. When my sister was in hospice we went to clean out her house and found that key on the end table next to her couch, so we figured it was important. It didn't fit any of the doors or anything we could find in her house. When we asked her what it went to, she was too far gone on pain meds to answer. She died in 2008 but I've still got that key, just in case I ever run into a lock that it fits.
I don't carry it with me every day, but I'm a server in a restaurant. One time a kid left this little tiny optimus prime figure on the table. I went to bus the table and saw the little figure. Threw it in my apron and it's been there almost ever since. That was about two years ago.
The almost is kind of awesome, too. One time at work I pulled a check out of my apron and optimus stealthily took flight. I didn't notice til the end of the shift. Freaking out, I searched the whole entire restaurant. Never found him. Saga over.... until a few weeks later. My co worker heard me talking about it. I come by on a day off for a drink and he brings me the drink and tells me to follow him. Sitting on top of our bulletin board high on the top right corner: MY OPTIMUS PRIME!!! I'm elated and thank him profusely. I come to find out someone on the shift I lost him found it. They didn't keep it or throw it away, they placed him in a pen cup. Someone saw it and moved it to the expo window... etc. for a few weeks people kept moving it and I never saw it!! Until my awesome co worker heard me talking about it and reunited me with my tiny useless talisman. You a real one, Cam.
The Most Helpful BunBun
A stuffed bunny.
Was suggested to me by my therapist to help with my anxiety. The idea is that when I feel anxious I can talk to the bunny, I can pet the bunny, I can squeeze or throw it or whatever. It gives me a safe way to deal with my feelings.
Luckily, my mental health has greatly improved over the last year, so I don't find that I need it anymore. But I still carry it around.
My First Independent Foray
The key to the home I grew up in. I was so proud when they gave me a key to the house in 7th grade so I could let myself in whenever I needed to.
They changed the locks years ago, so this key is now completely useless, but I can't bring myself to take that key off of my key ring. I will always carry it to remind myself of my family.
The Goodest Snail
A plastic snail that I found in my school parking lot. His name is Aaron, and Aaron lives in my bassoon case. He has played with me all over the country, I set him on my stand during concerts. He's very well behaved, and never interrupts the concert.
Hair bands. I'm a guy with short hair, so they are absolutely useless to me.
However, after watching my little sister, my mother, and past girlfriends slurp up their own hair with their ramen.... that is never happening in my presence again.
Good With My Hands
An all purpose tool. It is not particularly good at anything it does. Has a hammer on it that splits into a wirecutters/pliers. Compared to a leatherman, not super helpful to have on hand. It fails as a hammer, as a pliers, as a cutter. Even the knife/screwdriver attachments etc that pull out are so bulky that using any of them isn't great compared to say a swiss army knife.
I carry a letherman on hand too.
But... it was a gift from daughter/grandson who find me 'handy,' because I fix stuff for them, so I always have it on me as a memento. As a memento, not useless. Always makes me think of the Red Green show, "If they don't find you handsome, they can at least find you handy."
I joined the Navy ten years ago and we were all told about the tradition of challenge coins and why you carry them. Basically, you carry a coin and in the event of a night at the bar, getting a bad tasking, etc. you can pull out your coin and whoever doesn't have one/has the lowest rank one gets dumped on (has to do the task, pays the tab whatever). Well, 10 years in I have never actually pulled my coin, nor has anyone else ever pulled coins on me. So, I carry a heavy as heck Secretary of Defense coin in my wallet, looking for all the world like a dumb 15 year old with a condom in my wallet (because it is a round protrusion in the leather) for no damn reason. But I also am terrified of the day I do get challenged and don't have it and have to pay a $300 bar tab.