M is for Memorabilia

M is for Memorabilia

When you die, how much stuff do you want to leave behind for someone else to clean up?

Personally, I don't want to leave an overwhelming and overflowing mess.

One aspect of my possessions that I identified as particularly out-of-hand involved the number of pieces of memorabilia that I owned.

Knick-knacks, Christmas ornaments, stuffed animals, scrap books, cards, my marching band boots...seriously. I even had an old pair of ice skates. Boxes and boxes of these precious keepsakes.

Why? Because I grew up in a house where you didn't waste anything, which sounds good, except it also means you never get rid of anything. While we moved several times during my childhood, our moves were always financed by my father's employer, so we never had to pare down. Instead we just kept accumulating.

During my 30s, I went through several stages of paring down.

How do you part with beloved collections?

1. Move.

When you move, you truly evaluate what things matter the most to you. Particularly if you're paying for the move or doing the physical labor yourself, you'll decide if every box of Christmas ornaments is necessary in your new home.

You also find the items you use the most. Quickly.

If you moved years ago and you still have unopened boxes of memorabilia stashed in a basement or closet, those items are probably not as precious as you think.

If you have items of actual value in those boxes, then consider separating those pieces. Here's where the death scenario comes in handy again.

Who's going to clean out your house when you die? How will that person react to boxes of memorabilia? Will they feel obligated to go through every box? DO you want that person to feel obligated? Will they just chuck everything?

Moving helps give people perspective on their most-prized possessions.

2. Store...temporarily.

If you aren't going to be moving any time soon, then store your keepsakes in boxes for a year. Or two. Or three. You pick a time frame that seems reasonable to you.

Let's say five years go by, and you know that you've never once opened any of those boxes, then considering getting rid of those items. You're clearly not using them or looking through them the way your heart has you fooled into thinking you will.

3. Keep a limited number of memorabilia boxes.

Decide which items mean the most to you. Keep those. Not all of the things; just the most important things.

I have a small box of Christmas ornaments that my mother kept for me. I have a few scrapbooks, a box of photos, and three stuffed animals.

I used to have knick-knacks and decorative boxes cluttering my counters and shelves until I stored them. When I realized that not only did I not miss those items, I was quite happy not to keep dusting them, I realized that those items meant nothing to me.

Every bit got donated.

But your heart insists that someday you will want to display every ceramic figurine you've ever received.

Okay, so I'm not that attached to things, but here's a suggestion.

4. Take photos.

Create a mini-photo studio in your home. Get creative with what you use for backgrounds. Could be material that contrasts nicely with various objects. Maybe you use a wooden cutting board. Tile, ceramic, or carpet floors. Or beautiful shelves.

On a bright sunny day, wait for some indirect light in the room where you've set up your studio.

Take pictures of all of the objects that you think you can't part with.

Buy a digital frame so you can see your collections on display.

If you're really unsure about donating, even at this point, box the stuff up again. If a year goes by, and you're happy with seeing the pictures in the digital frame, then purge!

After all, if you don't get rid of the overflow memorabilia, all you're doing is creating a project for someone else. Probably someone you love. Do you really want to burden that person with boxes and boxes of stuff?

N is for News

N is for News

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