August 16, 2011

Enemy of Decluttering: Sentimental Value

Nathan and I have been doing a lot of decluttering lately. We just don't need all this stuff we've accumulated, so a lot of it needs to go. Purging feels pretty good once you get started. However, some items are difficult to toss. If I've had it for 20 years or I wore it on an important day in my life, discarding it is no easy task. And if my grandma gave it to me, getting rid of it is almost impossible.

Nana gave me a lot of stuff. Clothes. Luggage. Plastic containers. An alarm clock. Dish towels. Jewelry. Lotion. After she died, all of that became almost sacred. These simple objects transformed into a tangible link to someone no longer here. How could I get rid of any of them?

I found a new perspective recently as I was snapping green beans. I'd never bought fresh green beans before, but I had snapped them with Nana years ago. As soon as I started working on them, I immediately thought of her. The smell, the sound, the was like I was there on the back porch again, with Nana there with me in her apron, working away.

These are the true gifts in life - memories that are so simple yet so powerful. I don't need to keep a broken umbrella to remember my grandma. I don't need to keep the shirt I wore when I was baptized to know I was baptized. I don't need to keep all my stuffed animals to remember all the fun I had playing with them. I could lose everything I own and still have those memories. And what new memories are these boxes and drawers of junk creating?


  1. Hi, I just found your blog from Money Saving Mom and when I read this post I immediately knew what you were feeling. Both my parents have passed and I struggle with this too. I thought I would share a few things I have done. I have taken pictures of things that I really want to keep the memory of, for example my mom's precious moments numbered in the hundreds but I took a few pictures of the ones that really important and then sold them to some one who would love them. When it came to my dad clothing I have made a blanket out of them and even some of the clothing that I own that reminds me of him. I am sorry if this too much, I felt a kinship in this post and just had to share.

  2. Thanks, Katie! I appreciate your comment. Taking pictures is a very good idea.

  3. WOW!! I am doing purging at this very second and I so needed to hear this!! Thx! I have wayyyy too much stuff.. now I know what to do!! It's hard so it will be a process I am sure.. but you are so right!


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