Another day, another excuse to hang onto Stuff. For part one, please go here.
I still have gifts people gave me for my high school graduation, such as a jewelry roll that I still use when I travel. I also still have gifts people gave me for high school graduation, such as stationary that now has the wrong initials on it. I have gifts – still packaged! – that people gave me when Tyler was born. Tyler is TEN.
Um, yeah. Ridiculous.
Kidding aside, this may be the most difficult excuse for me to overcome. For one thing, I have a very good memory – with few exceptions, I can name the giver and occasion for almost every gift in my house. I secretly fear that if I get rid of a gift, somehow the giver will know. And will judge me.
As I try to work around this excuse, I ask myself, Self, would you buy this for your home if you saw it on sale today? If the answer is no, then it needs to move along. There is no shame in regifting – so long as it’s honestly done. Let’s say someone gives you a scarf – it’s pretty, but it doesn’t compliment your coloring or style. However, it would look fantastic on your friend. Give it to her. Done. Don’t wait for Christmas; don’t pretend you shopped for it, just give it. Other options include taking it back to the store for a refund/credit, or sending it to Goodwill. Yes, it’s hard – but so is storing items you don’t want, for an indefinite period of time, because you MIGHT hurt someone’s feelings.
This rule will cover most non-sentimental gifts, but what about the items – gifts or not – that tug your heartstrings?
For example, all four of my grandparents, as well as my father, are dead. Every birthday card, every letter, every gift I ever received from them Means Something, because there won’t be any more.
Likewise, I have a tendency to hang onto all of Tyler’s work, be it art work or school work or an adorable doodle of the dogs he made in a waiting room that one time. Childhood is short – I can already feel his drawing to a close – and I won’t find it nearly as cute when he’s switched from drawing Epic Ninja Battles to taking selfies on Instagram.
Jason hangs onto sentimental stuff, too. He has a tupperware container of weightlifting chalk from the mid-1990s, his trumpet from high school, and a large acrylic block engraved with a poem that his mom created for his wedding. His first wedding. A-HEM. We have yearbooks and trophies and awards and diplomas. Look how smart we used to be!
I have a strategy for editing these items.
I plan to make good use of my scanner for college essays, newspaper articles, and other papers. I also plan to treat these valuables like valuables. I should protect paper and textiles from light and heat. I should organize the kids’ artwork by year and put it in one location. I should be a bit ruthless with schoolwork – do I really need every spelling test he’s ever taken? – and use a scanner for these papers, too.
I hope that attempting to store these items properly will lead me to look at them with a more critical eye. We’ll see how it goes!