Monday, June 9, 2014

De-cluttering - What about the old philosophies? #8 - What about Sentimental Stuff?

Old Philosophy #8: "If an item – large or small – has sentimental value, you should keep it."

Why? Because, you know, if you keep it, you keep the person. Um, I guess not. 

Or is it, if you don't keep it, something bad will happen? I don't think so.  

But it is hard to let go. And we probably shouldn't let all of it go!...unless we're going to a monastery or going to live in the wild as a hermit or to travel the world with only a backpack. But even then, we might want to ask someone else to keep it for us. But what is "it"? How much is it? 

We don't have to keep the house, the old car, all the furniture, the jars of canned goods, and all the knick-knacks and linens that a relative left, just because we feel sentimental. For most of us, it's too much. So then we have decision time.

And sometimes it's hard just to sort through the sentimental stuff.  Different methods work for different people but here's one thing I've found to do. I make a list of things I really, really want to keep, things that, even if I were to down-size drastically, I would want to keep. For example, some of you know - and maybe some of you don't - that one of our sons passed away two years or so ago. Paul loved elephants all his life. Toward the end of his life, he got to pet an elephant! Paul had a collection of elephants but a lot of the trunks had broken off in various moves. I don't need to keep all the elephants. But he had a little Monopoly-token elephant that I scooped up and put in my pocket. I keep it in my jewelry box, and sometimes, when I'm missing him, I put it in my pocket again for a day. 

I have a little mosaic cross that belonged to my mother as a necklace. I had one just like it, in another color, as a child, but I lost mine along the way. My mom's cross is not in the colors that I wear, but I keep it in my jewelry box because it makes me think happily of both my mom and of my childhood. There are other things I keep that my mom made or used, but I don't feel the need to keep everything, just what I truly enjoy using or displaying. 

How many, and which, sentimental things to hang on to is a very personal decision. But for me, some of it comes down to whether it's something that brings happy memories, not tending toward guilt or depression...and to following my 'numbers rule'...for example, I can keep a couple of Paul's elephants, but I don't have to keep all of the elephants. 

And before I pass something along, I try to take a picture of it...or perhaps write a story about it. 

How do you preserve happy, loving memories of people or times in your life? 

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