Birthday cards. Valentine’s wishes. Christmas greetings. Sympathy noted. Wedding congratulations. Merely thinking about you missives.
Cards coming out the ying-yang here and some going back years.
I even have a gift sack full of sympathy cards from my late husband’s visitation that I ransacked for cash and abandoned – unread for the most part and most definitely never responded to. Cue Miss Manners her tongue cluck.
“What should I do with them?” I asked Rob. “Someone paid money for them.”
I think it’s the money spent that stops my hand at the shredder more than the thoughts or motives behind the mailing of them.
Not long ago, I bought a mess of the darn things myself at the grocery. Summer birthday wishes and Father’s Day.
“Look at these!” exclaimed the cashier. “Cards! I haven’t checked any through in I can’t remember when. People just don’t send this stuff anymore.”
I felt like a relic. An antique who hordes them as well as perpetuates their tribble like accumulation in society.
“Well,” Rob said in response to my query, “I can’t help you. I have a bunch of yours myself.”
Now I am slightly offended. Of course you have mine!
“I keep yours!”
“Because you gave them to me and you wrote little notes in them,” I said, snuggling under his chin.
And there is the crux of the matter.
I keep cards and notes of those I hold dear and consider the paperstock of others to be no better than unsolicited junk mail.
However, I can’t keep every card that is sent to me, my daughter or Rob and I. There is an “enough” point and I have reached it. The problem is to avoid the whole “guilt” thing. And it’s tricky.
For example, I feel not the tiniest bit of guilt for not responding to the sympathy cards that are sitting still in that sack, but I feel guilt about throwing them away. The cards themselves mean nothing, but the reason they were sent does. Therefore, the cards endure long after they should have been recycled.
The idiocy of this is not lost on me because not only did I keep them but fifteen months after the fact, I packed them and transported them to another country, where they continue to not be replied to or looked at or do anything other than take up valuable space. Space that is premium – as all space is.
The same can be said of paper in general. We keep far more than is necessary. I have two file folders full of the daily reports that Dee’s daycare kept, recording what she ate, when she slept, and anything of note. I have nearly three years worth of these reports.
Why? Because I stopped journaling her daily activities at the end of the first year. Un-coincidentally this is when her father took quite ill. In my mind, the reports are part of her “baby” record. I was too preoccupied to keep obsessive track of her “firsts” and thought I would go back later and scan the reports for highlights and compile them.
Dee is eight years old. The reports are still in a file cabinet – which also traveled internationally .
“I just want to rent a dumpster and pitch everything in without stopping to look at it,” I told Rob.
“Okay,” he agreed. “Let’s.”
It’s not really that irrational a solution. I have, after all, purged an entire house of possessions. Literally given away thousands of dollars in furnishings, clothes and household goods without really blinking or looking back in angst. It’s not so silly an idea.
What is it about paper? Whether it’s words or photos, it’s so much harder to part with.