I moved recently, and part of that move entailed pulling everything out of the storage locker I rented two years ago when I downsized from a large 5-bedroom house to a one-bedroom apartment. I had let go of a lot of “stuff” when I sold the house, but I’m one of “those” mums who hangs on to all sorts of memorabilia from my children’s youth, and every picture my young grandson ever drew for me. I had also been ‘the last stop’ for my dementing mother so I had in my possession all sorts of family history from both her and my father’s past.
Which is why I’m changing the way I live my life now.
As I cleared out one load of boxes only to watch another load arrive, I realized that I had forgotten how much “stuff” was in that storage locker.
I found boxes of reference books my mother had collected: everything from “The Encyclopedia of Space” to “Mysteries of The Past” to the “Illustrated Reverse Dictionary”. I found china and linens and steamer trunks my mother had brought with her in 1946 when she became a war bride. I found generations of photographs of both my mother’s and my father’s families that I never knew existed until after my father had died and my mother’s dementia prevented her from identifying anyone. To be honest, it’s quite a burden to be the holder of history when you know the history book is still being written.
I come from a generation (and perhaps you do too) where some things were too good to use on a daily basis; where small children should not be trusted with nice things; where ‘on display’ was the most use too many things received.
It’s All Stopping Now
Appreciate me or disapprove of me, all that is stopping now.
After Mum died, I polled my extended family to find out who wanted what. History was left in my possession so I scanned every photograph I had that I could identify and created copies of a CD for every member of every generation alive at that time. I think that’s duty enough.
On a go-forward basis, I decree:
- the books are all lined up on the lower shelves of one of my bookcases where the grandchildren can peruse them as they choose. Yes, I will encourage care and respect of books, but I will not have a bird if a page gets ripped or a picture has fingerprints on it.
- the linens will go into use – I deserve the good stuff as does my family!
- I am going to sort through photographs and if the faces are not clear, they are going to be disposed of. All the rest are going to be sorted by my parentage, with written instructions that if I have not gotten to the pertinent parts of the world where distant relatives might be able to identify some of the faces, they are to be disposed of because I’m confident that younger generations won’t have a clue who they are.
- The trunks are going into use, and one of them will even get a spruce-up and a paint job. No idle sitting about from here on in!
Do I Need to Plead In My Own Defence?
In my own defence:
- most of the information in the books is out-dated now but if anything triggers an interest or a curiosity in my grandchildren, the book has served its purpose
- many of the linens are hand-needlepointed or crocheted but I don’t have a clue who did the handiwork
- my dining room wall is lined with old family photographs of everyone I can identify – and I am probably the one person in my extended family who can identify faces as I spent extended periods of time with my parent’s families when I was younger.
- one trunk is a lovely old steamer trunk that I have already cleaned up and put into use but the other one is an eye-sore and weighs a ton so a facelift will ensure it gets both a home and some use.
How about You?
Now I’m curious about you. Are you the keeper of the family history? Do you hang onto memorabilia? How does it qualify as memorabilia? Does age automatically suggest value?
Let me know below.
I can SO relate to all those photographs! I am still in the process of digitizing and letting go. I do agree that I am old enough to start using the “precious” every day. We are worth it, aren’t we?
Pinning for future reference … to remind me to start clearing out little by little.
“start” and “little by little” – amazing that that’s all it takes, isn’t it, Molly, and yet, it can still be so difficult! and I appreciate your use of the word ‘precious’ as precious is exactly the look on my grandson’s face when I gave him one of his great-gramma’s cut glass vases to store his sea glass in.
I hope you come back and keep me up-dated on your progress!
I have written a number of posts like this one. I find it so hard to rid of memorabilia. We are all pack rats and hold onto things that no one wants or needs. I am trying to take the big step and start ridding my home of all of this crap.
I hear you, Victoria. I am improving with age… maybe that’s because it multiplies as the years go by and, at some point in time, movers are being paid a huge sum to move boxes that haven’t been reviewed for years!
Good luck with your “ridding”!!
Thanks for stopping by!
Hi Agnes, Good for you for making the decision to further minimize all that memorabilia. I’ve done the same thing with photos – they’re on computer unless they’re not identifiable, in which case they’re in the garbage or used as collage material. I’ve kept a few (very few) items that have meaning to me, although they mostly sit in Rubbermaid bins so that’s kind of questionable. So far just one mistake. I discarded movies that were on reels, assuming I’d never get around to having them transferred to dvd. I wish I hadn’t done that. By the way, what you’re… Read more »
Hi, Karen! I’m not sure if my current endeavours really qualify as death-cleaning (yes, I’ve read several articles about it, also the Danish ‘hygge’) as it’s other’s people’s stuff I’m still getting rid of! I did, however, go through that process when I down-sized. I did rent a storage locker as I was offered a lovely 1-bedroom suite that I knew was a great place to land, but not to nest. My current landing spot is very convenient to spend time with family, but as my grandchildren get older, I will have one more move – that will be all… Read more »
My husband and I are minimalists – very little holds sentimental value to us and I am a little in awe of the effort you’ve put into keeping and using your parents’ stuff. My MIL is about to move into a small unit and she has 63 years of “stuff” that nobody wants and we have to try to get rid of it all – it is a nightmare and one I won’t be passing on to our children down the track – everybody has more than enough of their own “stuff” without having to accommodate more from us! I… Read more »
Oh, Leanne, good luck with your MIL’s ‘stuff’. I can empathize as I got that dubious pleasure when I moved my mother in with me as she demented. Although dementia claimed so many of her memories, she still had a mind like a steel trap when it came to her ‘stuff’. So I moved far too much of it into my attic to keep her happier about the move. I can’t forget the feeling I had when my daughter and her husband helped me clean out my attic: I passed boxes to my daughter who passed them to her husband… Read more »
I do have my mother’s handwritten recipes from way back. I guess they would be called ‘retro’ now 🙂 and also have a family tree done by one of my aunts. I wish we had the internet, blogging and cell phones when I was in my 30’s or 40’s to keep track of family stuff.
I still love the oral tradition, Lise, although if not captured in time, so much is lost. I’m happy your mother’s recipes are safe – and I hope they come out regularly!
Thanks for stopping by!
I have kept a couple of items that were my mother’s. She passed away 32 years ago and I’m glad I kept something of hers. I also have my grandfather’s fob watch & chain and his spectacles. I will pass these on to my children. We are currently having to go through my MIL’s house as she has moved to an aged care home. She has kept EVERYTHING and I mean everything since moving to Australia from Italy in 1952!!! It is quite overwhelming and as we are in the process of downsizing I know I don’t want to take… Read more »
Thanks for stopping by, Sue. I hope other family members help you out! I seem to have a “disposal threshold” – I can sort and allocate for a number of hours for a number of days and then I’m not sure I’m making the right choices so I need to walk away for a few days and completely distract myself from the chore. I then go back fresh… until the threshold is met again.
Ihope your week is fabuous too!