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!

sentimental me

4 thoughts on “Sentimental Me

  1. OMG. Emily…I think we were sisters in another life! The clothes I think I will fit into or I try them on and they look too nice to donate and I think I will wear them but I never do….I had a ton of shoes to match every outfit when I worked …some of them are too beautiful to give away even tho I will never wear 5 inch heels again And to my horror I am one of those women I’d swear I’d never become when I was working…..wearing flats!

    I do the same with pictures and things belonging to my grandmothers and mother I was going to throw out my retirement party stuff but I couldn’t as it was such a great time. I did throw out cards from clients who I can’t remember and I threw out tons of island pictures from cruises as I couldn’t remember what Islands they were and they all looked alike

    I did get rid of material to a girl at work but still have a lot as material in Puerto Vallarta is so cheap and such vibrant colours but why bother sewing when I got amazing tops at Giant Tiger for $5 that are perfect for Mexico. I couldn’t even buy the buttons for $5

    My daughter is begging me to get rid of stuff as she says she’s the one who will have to deal with it as the boys won’t be able to leave their jobs. I’ve started. I gave away bags and bags of stuff …got rid of 200+ books that I will never have time to read but have tons more You don’t see clutter or things piled up in my house …it’s a big house but still clutter free. I am organized in the sense that in a room off one of the upstairs bedrooms are Rubbermaid bins full of stuff BUT it’s organized When I wanted Mickey Mouse sheets …for my grandsons visit…..yes they are 35 years old….lol…but in perfect condition…I went to my notebook ….looked them up …and oh yes…they are in bin #30 When I wanted Star Wars glasses from 80’s for him …..they were in bin #22. etc. A lot is Xmas stuff and we will never have Xmas in our house ever again. It’s been over 5 years I gave a lot of beautiful table and wall ornaments to my sister but again….too nice to donate. Jen would like them but she has no room in Toronto so I hold onto them til she gets a house

    Anyway…we’ve been swamped with company this summer and this is my first day off so I’m taking my coffee and book and sitting outside..,after I hang laundry out …..I think I told you at one point there were 8 people staying here besides us….meals for 10 people every night! Fun! Last Sunday my brother and wife turned up on my doorstep at 10am! I didn’t even know they were in the province! Newfoundlanders…..they just show up with no warning …it was no problem but would have been nice to have been told. It’s all good…I’m used to it

    We are home for sept but expecting 2 more lots of company . In October we are going to Paris and Rome…I know …like the song…lol….and then taking transatlantic cruise back to Miami. We go to several ports in Europe and will also go to Spain and Portugal and Bermuda …places we’ve not been Then before you know it, we will be off to Puerto Vallarta for winter. Close friends are taking condo in our building for 6 weeks and they’ve never been so they are excited to see all these places we go to

    Hope you are both well

    M Sent from my iPad

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  2. Well, my home and closets also hold nostalgia items and some range of sizes…. Some pictures and momentos are priceless. But constantly purging and dropping at Value Village, it is a renewal, like the critters who cast off their skin every now and then. Makes me feel lighter. And my gorgeous pairs of very high heels, that fit me back then, they were finally donated, hopefully some 30 year old is rocking them right now.

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  3. “realistically draw the line between what is truly of value and what is just clutter. ” Groan! Whatever is that? Isn’t every single thing valuable?? 😉

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