Favorite Things: Robby Donaldson and his daughter’s shadow box

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Robby Donaldson is an optician and a lover of metal music and horror movies. He’s also a father of two daughters, and the box that contains important mementos of his first-born Raegan is his favorite possession. 

I’ve got this shadow box that is filled with all the things my first-born, Raegan, had when we got her out of the hospital. It has the clothes she was wearing, hospital wristbands — everything we had when we first left the hospital with her. It’s the one thing I own that means more than anything to me.

The box was actually a Father’s Day gift from Raegan’s mother, Katie. It was given to me the first Father’s Day after Raegan was born. For me, it’s the one time in my life when everything changed. Having your kid be born, watching her mother go through labor — it was insane. Words cannot describe it. Afterwards, it’s not just me I have to look after. I have this other living being I must take care of. 

Since becoming a dad, I’m definitely not the same person I would be if I did not have a kid. 

Katie was shopping around at Hobby Lobby, something like that, and got the idea. She decided it would be the best Father’s Day gift for me, which was pretty spot on. I was very happy to get it. Growing up, my mother always liked photo albums, and the importance of family stuck with me. Whether it’s pictures or photo albums, I like having those physical items. They’re a part of your history, where you were at that point in time. Seeing my kid grow up, sometimes I completely forget what she was like as a tiny baby. The box has emotional and physical memories that I can hold onto and always remember. 

Eventually, I hope to give the box to Raegan. My mother did that for me. She recently made a photo album filled with pictures of me when I was a baby, and she passed that onto me. When Raegan is older, has her own family and a place to keep it safe, I’ll give the shadow box to her. 

I hold onto stuff like this. It means a lot to me. I’d rather have a gift that has real thought put into it, rather than just getting a gift card or some random expensive thing. Anything with my kids makes me extremely happy. It’s nice to hold onto those things for when they’re not there. It helps you remember: “Those are your damn kids! You’re a dad!” It gives me that sense of purpose. 

It will forever trip me out, that whole moment in my life. I didn’t know what to expect — it scared the hell out of me. You see people having kids but going through that whole process yourself — the nine-month pregnancy — nothing can describe that feeling. When I look at what’s in the box, I get a rush of happiness, memories and joy. 

Interview edited and condensed by Skyler Ashley. If you have a suggestion for Favorite Things, please email Skyler@Lansingcitypulse.com

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