I was on a mission recently to purge. My house is too cluttered, there’s just too much stuff, and I don’t need nor do I use most of it. I have a closet full of clothes, yet I tend to wear the same old favourites over and over. I have enough shoes to outfit a family of centipedes, enough purses to match each pair of shoes (ok, this is my weakness) and so many knick knacks, there’s no room for dust to settle around them.
Now, I wouldn’t say I’m a hoarder; I don’t keep every thing I come into contact with, unlike my husband. Now he’s a hoarder! Every scrap of paper he jotted something on, he has. Some date back years, so far back he can’t recall what they mean, but he has to keep them because ‘if he wrote it down he must’ve thought it important enough.’ (oi vey!) We have old letters and photographs, yearbooks, and trophies that belonged to an old friend who passed some 10 years ago and my husband has to keep them, all of them. His widow didn’t even want them but they’re in my house because my husband has to keep everything.
When I married him 37 years ago he had a 30 inch waist. He now boasts a healthy 36 inch girth but he still has some pants in his closet from when he was leaner because ‘they’re good pants…why would he get rid of perfectly good pants?’ I reason that maybe they’d fit someone who needs clothing and suggest we give them to the needy, but no, they’re his, and he’s going to keep them, for heaven knows what. He has a pair of shoes from an uncle who passed 45 years ago. They’re 2 sizes too big, but ‘they’re good quality….they don’t make shoes like this anymore’ and so they sit in the back of the closet, collecting dust. And God forbid I should offer them to someone who might use them, someone for whom they’d fit. No no, they’re his and he can’t use them, but he can’t part with them either. This type of hoarding is an illness.
Now I’m no saint. I have clothes that no longer fit but I keep them because I like to think someday I’ll fit into them again – I see them as incentive, not clutter, and these items are few, one or two at most.
Funny isn’t it, the things we cling to? And there’s nothing wrong with cherishing something of sentimental value as long as we realistically draw the line between what is truly of value and what is just clutter. I have 2 laundry baskets full of family photographs, some 40 plus years worth, and I can honestly say no one has looked at them for at least 10 years, maybe longer. So why are they here? Every now and then I pull the baskets out and start sorting determined to organize them. My intention is to toss the many, many duplicates and reduce the overall hoard to 3 or 4 albums. I create a ‘keep’ and ‘toss’ pile, but as soon as I start going through them a flood of memories come crashing down and after just a few hours my ‘keep’ pile is huge and the ‘toss’ pile is virtually non-existent. Discouraged at my lack of progress, I toss all of them back into the laundry basket and stuff it back into a closet.
I’ve always enjoyed sewing and so did my mother. She had several pin cushions and tin boxes for threads. (Actually, my mother was the master of hoarding. There wasn’t a square inch on any wall where she didn’t hang something and every table and shelf in her house held numerous decorations. She really liked stuff! Ah, but I digress) I suppose no one really needs more than one pin cushion and I have a large drawer that can easily house all my threads but sentimental me can’t let go of those little reminders of my mother. These little knick knacks meant a lot to her.
I have table linens that belonged to my mother or mother-in-law that I never use because they’re either too worn or don’t fit my table, but I can’t part with them because they conjure up memories of beautifully set tables and happy family gatherings. Ok, so maybe I’m guilty of a little hoarding myself. The things that bring us joy are worth keeping. Those that don’t seem to serve any purpose, like old clothing, another’s photos and year books, scraps of paper with meaningless notes, they need to be purged. It’s just not healthy to hold on to everything for no reason.
I guess what we each find of value is very personal thing and letting them go can be a betrayal of our memories. That said, Sentimental Me has no problem purging most useless items….like shoes that don’t fit, photos of some else’s life, pants you haven’t a hope in hell of fitting in to again, and…….uncooperative husbands!