How do you try to pare down the possessions when there are so many memories involved? It can be the most difficult to clean up any closet/shelf/garage space when we come up against wedding gifts, school projects, and that mascot head you nabbed from the senior year prank. (Um, you were a trouble-maker weren’t you?)
Well I can tell you how we deal with it. (Fair warning– we’re weird.) We have been blessed with an unusually low sentimentality level. I think I learned it from an interaction with my mom when I was little.
I remember seeing her carry a box of thrift store donations once and on the top was the bunny slippers I had gotten her for Mother’s Day. I remember feeling hurt. Then my mom said, “Sorry, you weren’t supposed to see that. I just don’t wear them and they’re taking up space in my closet.”
It clicked for me that day, I think. Why would I want to burden my mother just to protect my ego? Over bunny slippers? The gift was to make her feel good, not burdened.
From then on, if I don’t use something someone’s given to me I think, “I don’t think they gave this to me so I’d feel guilty and keep it even if I don’t use it.” Then I think of them fondly and am happy that they took the time and consideration to get me such a gift– and then I toss it. : )
But I don’t think it’s fair to toss ALL things that have sentimental value. We’re not THAT heartless. Memory boxes. We each have one. If I want to keep something to remind me of something, I put it in the box. When the box is full I go through it and only keep the best of the best so there’s more room.
Last time I went through it I tossed so much. I was shocked at how much that I had saved that brought negative memories! Letters from when I was a kid and stupid. News clippings of bad things that had happened to me or people I knew. Going through that box was actually uncomfortable at times. I tossed everything I didn’t feel warm and fuzzy about when seeing again.
For example, when I was about four my Aunt bought me a Care Bear to remember her by (she had cancer.) Then, less than a week after she died, it was stolen out of our car. I had kept the news article about the theft begging for its return and the replacement bear since it never was returned. The article was even laminated. Why? Who wants to remember a person that way? With so much drama over the stuff, I was forgetting the person.
I have a picture of me with my aunt and the original Care Bear. THAT makes me happy to see.