Thursday, December 22, 2011

To Save, or Not to Save

Have you seen the show “Clean Sweep” or “Hoarders”? I'm not quite that bad, but I'm a clutter-bug, a girl with many piles in many places. There's never enough time to finish whatever project I'm working on, but then I need the table for something (say, serving dinner) so I sweep the paper storm into a pile and put it somewhere. This event then repeats itself over and over. Pretty soon all the chairs in the “pretty room” (that's what my boys called it when they were young and it stuck, it's just a living room, but no toys allowed, those go to the family room, or their own room) are stacked with precariously perched piles of paper. Deciding what to save, to what to file, what to shred and what to just recycle seems like a daunting task when you survey the scenery.

The problem isn't so much lack of motivation (because clutter drives me nuts and makes me feel even more claustrophobic) or time (I'm no longer homeschooling {yippee yippee joy joy dance}) it's the deciding. Am I ever going to look at this program again (like the one I got from attending The Nutcracker where my friends daughter was dancing)? No, I'm not. But suppose her mother is making a scrapbook for her when she becomes a prima ballerina one day. She might need it if she lost hers. So give it to her, you say. No! She has one! She doesn't need mine now, but boy would I be the hero if she needed one later and I still had mine!

I'm thinking you're catching on to my dilemma here. Why save that letter from Grandma? It's just taking up space. You know she loves you, and you love her. Now fast forward to her funeral, and you're making those posters of the deceased's life, and there is a letter she wrote to her granddaughter. In fact, it's the last letter she ever wrote because very shortly after that, Alzheimers stole her brain. It's now a precious keepsake, and you're so happy to have it.

What should I save of mine? I have ticket stubs: first time I saw Bruce Springsteen in concert, front row at the downtown historic movie theater where my uncle took us to the premiere of “The Empire Strikes Back.” I know I don't need them. I have the memories. Well, for know. With my medical issues, I don't know how long until someone steals MY brain.

Then I fast -forward to some future relative of mine, sorting through all my piles, and finding those ticket stubs and thinking, “Wow, she was around for THAT!” I know it's not a moon landing or anything of that scope, but it was an occasion that was important to me.

For my last point, I do have a counter-example. I write poetry. Have since I was in about 5th grade. I have journal after journal with poems and rants and raves and excited to just be alive entries when love was in full bloom. Those I'd rather others not see. As a human person, I'm not perfect, and some of the events described in detail aren’t for consumption by family members. Skeletons in the closet, described in the journal.

Ok, just one more example. When my mother was in college, a friend dragged her to hear some poet read his poems in one of the lecture halls on campus. I really wish she'd saved the program. It was in the early 60s, and the poet was Robert Frost.

How do you handle this issue? What do you save? What never makes it home? How do you store the treasures? I'd love to hear what you do.


Matthew MacNish said...

Just stopping by as an A to Z co-host to follow your blog. Nice to meet you!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My wife values things like that. I admit, for the most part, I just toss. Once in a while she's pull out something really old that's neat, but usually it's an item that had meaning to us as a couple.
Yeah, I'm no help, am I?

Unknown said...

I had a similar issue. I trace it back to the time when I came home from band camp. I found my father going through my closet and throwing things out. But it does seem easier to let "things" go as I continue to work on my program of recovery.

Brian Miller said...

books...i am a huge book every thing else can go...have a great christmas!!!

Pearson Report said...

When I started reading your post I thought is this about me...particularly the sweeping of the papers into a pile and then moving them somewhere else.

Fortunately, I have a mother that reminds me only my bones will fit into the box as I exit stage left. I know it's a bit of a morbid thought but she adds that the real treasure chest is our minds.

When I ask her what would happen if she started losing "her mind" - she smiles and says "then the photos won't mean much anyway, will they".
It has helped me put many things into perspective - I am quite good at purging and chuckle at how little I need to save and still enjoy the memory.

But...the papers still bog me down. (mostly to do with my business)

Anyway...I'm also here by way of the A to Z Challenge and wanted to say HI, plus add myself to your Followers list!


Daisy said...

I am someone who likes to keep things too. I have a special pretty box covered in different coloured butterflies that I like to put things in that mark special times in my life. I know that I like to look at old things that my parents have had for a long time and I am looking forward to in the future sitting down myself, pulling out a few things and reminding myself of some special times that appeared lost. Also, sharing them with any children or grandchildren in the future. Thanks for sharing about your poetry journals. I like the fact that you have a room called 'the pretty room' hehe.


Most interesting post, well penned.

Thanks for visiting and the lovely comments made.

Happy New Year,

Blissful & Domestic said...

this is a hard one. I have been dejunking our house this month and I just follow the rule that if I haven't used ti in the last year I probably don't need it. I do however have a few boxes in my shed for those momentos. Maybe doing that will help.

Anywho I also wanted to let you know I am having a Homemade Year in 2012 linky party over on my blog Blissful and Domestic and would love for you to link up any of your homemade goodness:>

Have a fabulous week!

Shannon Lawrence said...

I'm a pack rat, plain and simple. I keep programs, tickets, etc., and have a bin those go in. I do go through it every few years when it suddenly won't close, and I weed out a couple things or give them to people who might appreciate them. I'd been married several years when I finally took out all the notes and letters I'd saved from middle and high school and burned them in the fireplace (not out of anger or anything, mind you, but just so they would be permanently gone and I wouldn't be able to go back and fish them out to add back into the pile).

On the other hand, I've gotten pretty good at getting rid of many of the things the kids bring home from school. If I kept it all, I'd be snowed under in no time. I frame the really neat artwork, photograph things they love, and they are each allowed up to 2 things on the fridge at a time. If it is to be replaced, it's time to retire one of those things.