Teen marks 18th birthday by opening time capsule her mom created when she was a baby

Gracie Chastain, 18, opened a time capsule 17 years after her mother, Kim, asked family to help her create something truly special for her then 1-year-old daughter. (Photo: Kim Chastain)

One Indiana teen recently had an unexpected blast from the past thanks to her forward-thinking family, who decided to preserve precious memories.

Last week, Kim Chastain of Brownsburg, Ind. posted photos of her 18-year-old daughter Gracie opening up a safe that also doubled as a time capsule. According to Chastain’s Facebook post, she had put the time capsule together 17 years earlier while Gracie was just a year old, and with her daughter finally turning 18, she believed it was time for her to finally see this special gift.

“So, here’s a cool thing ... on Gracie’s 1st birthday, I didn’t know what to get a 1-year-old who had everything she needed and wouldn’t remember her birthday,” Chastain wrote. “Anyway, so I had our friends and family put things in a time capsule for her to open on her 18th birthday. We kept it a secret all these years, and yesterday, she opened it. There was an array of memorabilia from her birth year, jewelry, and savings bonds, but best of all, it was filled with gifts and notes from loved ones, many of whom have since passed. It was really special.”

The post quickly went viral. Commenters were touched by Chastain’s sweet gesture to her daughter.

“That is so awesome! What a very special gift!” one person wrote.

“Such a sweet idea!! I love this!” another person praised.

“OMG that’s smart I wanna do that when I have kids!” a commenter added.

Chastain tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she was not expecting the response her post has gotten.

“I never dreamed anyone would be interested in Gracie’s time capsule other than the friends and family that actually contributed to it,” she says. “But it was a special moment for us  and I wanted to share our sweet moment with anyone who cared and it just kept getting shared over and over again.”

The wife and mother of two remembers that around the time of Gracie’s 1st birthday, she was still dealing with the loss of a family member and with the dilemma of how to do something special for her daughter, which prompted the special gesture.

“I just ... wanted to make Gracie's 1st birthday really special, but I knew no matter what I did, she wasn't going to remember it,” she says. “I lost my grandma before Gracie was born and I was very sad that Gracie would never know her. I thought if I could get all of our loved ones to write Gracie notes, she would have something to remember them by.”

Family and friends were more than eager to help, gifting the then-baby various items ranging from old magazines, almanacs and coins from the year Gracie was born, to jewelry and savings bonds. Chastain also made her own contributions, including some of Gracie’s infant clothes and a tape of her birthday party, but what she gets particularly sentimental about are letters written by loved ones, many of whom died before Gracie’s 18th birthday.

When Gracie Chastain opened her time capsule, she was greeted by dozens of various items like old photos, tapes, magazines, letters, jewlry, savings bonds and more. (Photo: Kim Chastain)
The time capsule included magazines. (Photo: Kim Chastain)

“I was overwhelmed,” Gracie tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “A lot of our family had gathered to watch me open it ... I don’t like getting ‘stuff’ as gifts, so getting memorabilia with sentimental value was really special.”

Gracie, who is a high school senior, says she could not believe her family kept the time capsule secret for so long. With her high school being closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, the teen says that all of her gifts will help keep her preoccupied for the remainder of what would have been her senior year. But of all the items frozen in time, Gracie does have a few favorites.

“I liked the necklaces from my grandparents and my parents, and the letter from my great-grandpa, who passed away a year and a half ago. He talked about my great-grandma, who I never met, and he gave me a picture of her when she was 18, and she was beautiful. My other great-grandpa was a jewelry maker and he made me a bracelet with beads he got from Disney World. That was neat,” she says.

Kim Chastain (second from right) with husband Jon and daughters, Gracie, 18, and Kadence, 16. (Photo: Kim Chastain)

Though Chastain admits that she imagined how her daughter would react to the time capsule many times, experiencing that moment in real life was surreal.

“I chose to have her open it when she turned 18 because I knew that ... she would be graduating high school and starting her adult life soon and it would be a special send-off gift for her,” she says. “The 17 years just flew by. I remember her first birthday like it was yesterday and here she is, all grown up ... I was so happy we made the time capsule so she would have those letters to know how much she was loved.”

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