Lack of Sentiment

Compulsive hoarding in a private apartment

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I am a purger extraordinaire. Nary a sentimental bone in my body. About the only thing I have difficulty shedding is paper. My desk and more than a few boxes can attest to the fact that I loathe chucking my own words or any scrap of paper that relates to anything I think might come back and thump me if I can’t produce it. The former is a side-effect of being a writer, and the latter stems in part from my father’s training concerning finances and record-keeping but more from the days of care-taking during my late husband’s illness. Between Medicaid and Social Security, keeping a paper trail become a bit of a mantra.

Where stuff is concerned though I am stone cold. Clothes in particular should be gifted, garage-saled or donated with merciless regularity. I don’t understand hanging on to apparel that you don’t wear and are unlikely to ever wear again unless you should find yourself suddenly thrust into an ice age survival scenario that requires you to don as many articles of clothing as possible.

My sister, DNOS, has a closet containing clothing from every era of her life . Acid washed jeans, Flash Dance sweatshirts and probably jelly shoes. There are articles of clothing in her possession that I gifted to her when I left college … in 1987. She comes by this as my daughter does – paternally. Our father kept dress clothing until the fabric was shiny and nearly transparent.

Recently, we helped Rob’s mom pack up her home for her move south. Boxes of things that hadn’t seen the light of day since her last move four years ago, were taken from their current area of limbo and packed into boxes that will eventually dump them in some new Twilight Zone space in Arizona.

Perhaps I am missing something but how important can something be if it’s primary residence is storage, and you only think about it on the occasion of moving it from one residence to another?

Because that’s the reality of most possessions. Think about all those dimly to not at all lit spaces in your home where stuff resides like residents of the Island of Misfit Toys.

The oldest daughter, Fare, reclaimed her childhood from the basement storage not long ago. Books, school records and stuffies.

“She says she’s keeping it for the children she wants to have,” Mick told me.

“You should tell her that there is maybe one thing I saved from my childhood that Dee ever glanced at more than once,” I said though that’s not quite true. She played with my first Barbie as a tub toy until the mold got it and my Malibu Skipper currently enjoys second youngest daughter status with the family of dolls currently residing in the doll mansion Rob built for her.

But Murphy’s Rule of Saving One’s Childhood Crap for Your Own Children states: they will ignore, hate or break the stuff. All of these things will make you regret having sired or birthed them in the moments afterward when you are cleaning up the remnants of your memories and tossing them – instead of your child – into the trash (though you may briefly consider mending the object and tossing the child).

10 responses to “Lack of Sentiment

  1. Craigslist has become very handy in my purging rounds as well. Just yesterday sold Jack’s infant travel system, which the little monster outgrew in no time flat, so it was still in almost mint condition. It isn’t exactly an income bit covered the expenses from our little road trip last weekend.

  2. I learned from my grandma, who lived through the Depression, “you just can’t save everything and there is likely always someone out there who can use today what you are packing away for tomorrow”. I do the huge purges and I still feel like I’m under so much crap. But now that I’ve done 2 purges since buying my house 6 years ago there isn’t much in the basement. I can actually see most everything I own. Just a few holiday decorations and a handful of fabrics that I’ll someday have made into a quilt and my husband’s hunting stuff live downstairs now. It’s a really good feeling. And even better knowing that someone is using my rainy day stash on sunny days.

    • I love knowing that many of the items I purged are being used by ppl who need them. We make regular use of Freecycle and recently gave away Dee’s outgrown swingset to a young couple in town. The mom wrote Rob a note that same evening saying that she and her husband had already put the set together and that their girls were beyond thrilled. It is a good feeling.

      • That is good. Stuff like that does make me sentimental- as though you can hold on to your baby by holding on to your baby’s things. But, there are a lot of very needy babies out there. And kids who need a good old fashioned swing on the swings.

        I also want to make note that my grandma hoarded weird things like paperclips and rubberbands and scraps of paper. She once broke her hip reaching down for a paperclip she saw on the ground outside the grocery.

  3. This made me literally LOL because I am also a purger, and DH is not. We have had some lively discussions on the subject.

    The only area where I am sentimental is things from my kids’ childhoods… First drawings, Easter outfits, favorite toys. I have kept the dangly things from each of their baby mobiles to give to them when they have homes of their own, for Christmas ornaments. I got this from my mom who kept many of my baby things in our antique cedar chest (which is where I keep my kids’ stuff too). It is neat to be able to take out the plastic musical apple I played with as a baby and my first Easter dress, and show it to my kids, and someday their kids. But they are kept as heirlooms, not hand me down playthings.

    I do think the Depression point is a good one. All my grandparents were trying to survive and raise their own families during the Depression, and all of them except my maternal grandfather were certified hoarders. They would keep milk jugs and cereal boxes and other very weird things that I never understood. Now that we are struggling to raise our kids in this spectacular economy, I find I have a better understanding of how their fears took the form of wanting to save everything just in case.

    • My daughter has a little stash of “special things” that she is saving and my mom had a cedar chest that still contains many childhood items. I have tiny stash of Dee’s baby clothes and stuff. Heirlooms I have no issue with at all.

      My parents were Depression Era kids. Mom has gotten over the need to hoard but Dad never did.

  4. Maybe with old people it has to do with living through the depression.My mother purchased a house two blocks from us, and we have had the “pleasure” of moving her, along with all of her stuff. When she moved from Michigan to Oklahoma, I don’t think she got rid of a single thing. She gave us the green light to purge, and oh boy, did we ever. She had enough linens, dishes, etc. that 8 people could have lived there quite well. What a job!!! The stuff we put out for the Salvation Army took up an entire driveway.
    But one good thing about it all is it made me go home and get rid of a whole bunch of my own stuff.

  5. I was so proud of all the purging I did as prep for leaving Arizona.

    Then I got back to Maryland and walked into the storeroom of stuff I’d left here. Storeroom. Literally. It was a reasonable thing to do at the time: I was leaving in haste and didn’t have time to go through everything. I was going to be gone for only 18-24 months; What could I live without for that period of time?

    But I was gone for 4 years and I lived without all that stuff just fine, thankyouverymuch. When all the boxes have been unpacked, I will be going through that room with a very critical eye and getting rid of a LOT of stuff. (But I’m saving the three sets of train tracks for my grandchildren…)

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