Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Take a Picture of It

Stuff.   It's no newsflash that most Americans just have too much stuff.   Everyday, people wheel big plastic bins out of discount stores and there are whole stores and businesses designed to help people organize their stuff.   There is a series on A & E called Hoarders which follows the extreme examples of people with an actual disorder that causes them to hoard things, even garbage and perishable foods.

Yesterday, I found this wonderful post at the blog, Small Notebook for a Simple Home.   I think it uses a convincing  image to convey the need to simplify the collection of sentimental items.

http://smallnotebook.org/2008/09/22/holding-on-to-sentimental-things/


This is a topic very close to my own heart.   My mother was not a hoarder, but she was a collector.   I grew up in a beautiful home, thanks to my mother's creativity and eye for antiques and decorating.   People would actually call my mother to ask if they could bring a friend over to tour the house.   It wasn't grand, but it was full of interesting things, artfully arranged.

Over the years, the collections grew and we moved to a larger home with incredible storage.   We had 13 large closets, 3 of which were deep walk-ins.   One of them had built in shelving and was large enough that we could store our artificial Christmas trees in their boxes.   That meant that it was easy to add to the collections, especially Christmas decorations because there was ample storage space.   Then, my parents retired and moved to a home of similar square footage, but less storage.   The garage became a storage room, waiting for a garage sale to clear its contents.   There was just too much at that point.  And my mother became more stressed as a caregiver to my father in his early stages of frontal-temporal dementia.   She did not have the time or will to manage it all the way she once did.

So, when we were faced with the task of finishing the clean-out of the house this summer, we were overwhelmed by stuff.   I remember how excited Amber and I were, when, on the last day, we opened a drawer of a little cabinet and it was EMPTY.   It was the first thing we had opened that was empty.

We kept pieces of furniture that were meaningful and useful, antiques, photos, etc..., but we simply could not keep it all.   "Take a picture!" became our motto.   I lined up everything that tugged at my heart strings and took pictures of it all.   I saved some paper items to scan and preserve digitally.


How sweet are these greeting cards and picture book from the 1950s?   Why can't things still be that pretty and charming?

Some of my school days "art." ;-)



 I felt very guilty about throwing out so many things, especially items from Mama's cedar chest, but I did not want to face a future being paralyzed or burdened by stuff.   I was amazed at God's tremendous grace as I looked at the huge pile of things I actually threw away.   I did not have the strength to do that on my own!


The task is not entirely complete.   One half of our garage is still full of items, including about 20 bins of Hallmark Christmas ornaments and other items I wasn't quite ready to part with.   Also, there were things I knew Mama would have wanted to see get the best possible price at auction.   That doesn't matter to me at all.  No amount of money could make up for what it's costing our family in time and most importantly, peace of mind, to try to manage all of this. 

 Storage unit or treasure chest?  Yes, the precious nature of mementos can get lost if there is too much.

I'm ready now.   Recording thoughts and treasured moments in this blog has been an important part of the process.   My parents and my childhood are always with me in my memories and I don't need to clutter our home with every single item from my past to keep those memories alive.   I want to be surrounded by people, not just things.   I want to treasure some special items from my our past while we also make room for our little family to create its own memories.

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