In the last few months, I’ve been sorting through my parents’ belongings which they acquired during their 59-year marriage, and housed throughout their 5-bedroom, century-old home. Friends have sympathized and empathized and asked if it’s been hard. Actually, it’s been very therapeutic and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I’ve found pictures of my parents and their friends that I haven’t seen before; I’ve found their high school yearbooks and a scrapbook that my grandfather kept for my mother, his only daughter. I’ve found unique gifts with sweet notes from their friends, and some riveting “Letters to the Editor,” that my father penned. I’ve boxed up my grandmother’s china and Mom’s Christmas Spode. It’s been rewarding and fun, and helped me remember special times with my parents. But, the process has also caused me to do some culling of my own stuff. I’m here to share with you the benefits of what I’ve learned in the last few months since my parents passed away.
First, throw away all those cards and letters that say nothing more than, “Happy Birthday!” Or Anniversary or Mother’s Day, or whatever Hallmark occasion. If there’s nothing more written in it, toss it immediately upon reading. When you consider how many holidays Hallmark marks per year, these can add up over decades. You may want to hold on to charming hand-written notes from your children and grandchildren, but, face it…most aren’t that charming.
Second, after some time, give away all those knick-knacks friends and grandchildren gave you over the years, such as figurines holding signs reading, “World’s Best Grandma,” and little what-nots, i.e. glass angels, porcelain crosses, and stone garden animals. If you have a “thing” for New Mexico like our family does, don’t hold onto all those piñon incense burners and sand sculptures. They really aren’t attractive once you leave the Land of Enchantment. And, if you’re from “wildflower country,” (i.e. DeWitt County), as we are, you probably don’t need to hold on to all those trinkets painted with bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes. They’re beautiful in the wild, just not on tea cups and guest towels.
Third, while we all love our music, I must encourage you to get rid of your old vinyl records. Will you ever listen to them again? Probably not. Frame them for your man cave, or find a collector. Same goes for 8-tracks, cassettes and MOST c.d.’s Have you heard of iTunes, people? Moving on to movies, throw away your old VHS movies and, likewise, most of your dvd’s. There’s a new thing called Netflix and it is a true space-saver. As a matter of fact, throw away any t.v. that pre-dates this century. Really, just put it out curbside.
I will stop myself here; you probably get the idea. Why do we hold on to these things, this stuff? Because they mean something to us at the time. It’s similar to those items we cling to when our children are young; their stuffed animals, special books and Legos. We can visualize the sweet angels playing with them, cuddling with them as they fall asleep. How could we part with them? Even as we watch them leave for college we can’t part with some of these things. I admit it, I still have boxes of children’s books and even some of their clothing. (Just ballet costumes, some smocked dresses and a Harry Potter robe!) It’s ok. Hold onto it for awhile. Just look through it every now and then. And, when you can, pass it along to someone else who can use and enjoy it. Your children will thank you for it.