Thursday, December 10, 2009

Should it stay or should it go now...

I'm facing a problem right now that I've struggled with for a long time. What do I do about my keepsakes?

On the surface, this sounds like a trite issue, but every time I approach the question it feels like the most monumental decision I have ever had to make in my life.

Over the years, I've accumulated a vast wealth of memories. I have essays written from college, posters and advertisements from my days on the road as a rock star, pictures stuffed into boxes - and even Boy Scout badges and slides from when I was a child (actual photo). But the minute I pick any one of these things up to toss into the garbage, I get all confused and ultimately put it back to deal with another day.

I don't know, maybe keepsakes are a natural part of our self preservation instincts. I know I enjoy looking at old pictures of my parents and grandparents. And I think I enjoy having antique items from generations past in my home - I'm not entirely sure. After all, "enjoyment" is a relative thing. But my point is, who am I to decide that no future generations should have information about me just because I have a few too many boxes cluttering up my closet? If I don't preserve the memory of me, who will?

So this is why I'm confused. But now I'm curious:

Am I alone in my struggle? Do you keep or toss? And most importantly... What is the dumbest thing you are currently hanging on to?

27 comments:

Maureen said...

Holy crap I am the WORST one to ask. I keep every-frickin' thing.

Don't toss your memories! You have kids to do that after you're gone ;)

rick said...

When Grandma Lee was living with us and she had Alzhiemers, all she could remember was the stuff from her childhood, so maybe it is important. Just put it all in a big rubbermaid tub and stuff it in the top of your garage.
For years my bullitan board had a hairy scab from my scalp, that I pulled off when I got the chickenpox, in 11th grade. Ahh, memories.

Tiger Woods said...

Get rid of all your old love letters and text messages.

Sornie said...

Pack the stuff away in a metal box somewhere - maybe inside a safe if it really has some value to you. Just don't save stuff that you'd be ashamed of others finding - like a photo of yourself kissing another guy while you're both dressed as women. That would be troubling.

Jeff said...

maureen - Oh great... now you've made me realize that I also have to be responsible for deciding what to do with my parent's things in the future. Thanks a lot.

rick - You got rid of the scab! But... but... but I wanted that!

tiger - Good point. Too bad you couldn't get rid of your old mistresses.

sornie - Hmmm, you sound like you speak from experience. But good advice all the same. Thanks.

Molly said...

The stuff you wrote in school...scan and then pitch the originals so if you DO ever want to read them again, you can. I guess you could do the same with pictures, but there is something about finding one years later...

As for the patches and pins and awards and other little baubles, those are the coolest! Keep em in a box or put them in a shadow box to see all the time.

My popaw kept absolutely everything and when he died each of his grand kids got an old sam's club card...popaw WAS the Sam's club to us. You never really know what your kids or grandkids are gonna think is YOU, to them.

Momaw was shocked at the things we wanted to keep.

Bill said...

Recently I threw out dozens of letters and notes from girls that said, "I love you". The ones I got from Marlyin Monroe, Dorthy Lamour, Betty Davis, and your mother, I am keeping.

Shieldmaiden96 said...

Michael's or Hobby Lobby has these little shadowbox frames that you can put things like that in; I'd pick the shiniest and most colorful ones, make a little picture and hang it up, and enjoy it.

Roger said...

Think of your kids and how much money they will make from selling your stuff on eBay! Jenni and I are packrats, more so she than I, and have a couple of boxes of old stuff that we might do "something" with.

As for the dumbest thing that I still have... it would probably be the plastic football that I got at a high school football game, you know the cheap little hand-sized ones? For some reason I cannot get rid of that thing. In fact, I'm not even sure that I got it from a football game... I shall throw it away tonight.

Maybe.

*lynne* said...

Jeff,
my hubby and I are packrats... and I've had the slightly upper hand of having all my junk in Malaysia while I nag at him for all the boxes and boxes of stuff we've had to move recently that we shouldn't have had to because they were full of things he should be getting rid of. ... but I don't insist too much,,, after all, I've had fits of steeling myself and throwing tons of things out only to regret it later.

Charli said...

Oh dear lord, I'm cutting your blogging relationship with these people OFF! You were all SUPPOSED to say "get rid of the junk". Then maybe I could actually clean around here! Jeff can't remember the name of the man he just met 10 minutes ago but he clings on to childhood memories and all the stuff like it was his last $$. When I met him, I cleaned up his kitchen and pitched the 20 Cool Whip containers he used for eating cereal, you would have thought I threw away his favorite grandma's only memory. I think he still mutters about those containers 22 years later - QUIT ENCOURAGING HIM!
And dear, if you need help, I can send you on a little vacation and it can all be taken care of by the time you return:)

Idaho Dad said...

Count me in on not knowing what to do with all the old souvenirs and keepsakes. Well, I guess I do know what to do with them, since I've been hanging on to some of these things for 30+ years. I guess that makes me an expert at keeping stuff.

I did once go through it all and got rid of a few items, but only those that could be sold on eBay. My memories come with a price! Other than that, if it's not a big problem in terms of storage, don't worry about it.

Going through your boxes of stuff every 5 to 10 years is like finding lost treasure!

Elizabeth said...

I'm a tosser. I am merciless when I'm cleaning out the garage or closets. But my husband is a saver. One time I was throwing things away and I tossed the champagne glass from my high school prom and he went into the trash after it. I didn't even know him in high school, but he just couldn't bear me throwing it away. I waited until he went into another room and I tossed it back into the trash!

Junk Drawer Kathy said...

Charli -- I'm sorry we failed you. We'll do better next time.

Jeff -- I love Shieldmaiden's suggesting for shadowboxing things. Maybe just a sampling of the stuff you have?

The absolute dumbest thing I'm hanging onto is a promotional button the size of a coaster from when I worked at Roy Rodgers fast food restaurant. We were pushing the new ham sandwich (that actually failed BTW). We wore it for a time on our uniforms. I saved ham. Does that surprise you?

Mom Thumb said...

I still have some things from my childhood, but they take up very little space on the closet shelf. I'm more with Charli on this, as I also had to toss things from Randy's kitchen, mainly so I could get in there to prepare a meal. But 26 years later, I am still fighting the clutter wars. Don't really know how to toss those six computers in the attic. . .

April said...

We have a couple of Rubbermaid bins of our past memories. I think that it is perfectly within reason to store a few things. Now if you have a whole room full...then I might worry, but a some boxes, no problemo!

Jeff said...

molly - Thanks for the great suggestions. I'm a little leery of scanning and tossing things after losing TWO hard drives in as many years, which contained EVERY digital picture I've ever taken. Huh... do you think that has anything to do with my inability to toss things now?

bill - Make sure you leave me those movie star letters. I want to keep those forever. Or at least until I get a good offer on eBay.

shieldmaiden96 - So you're saying I should frame my crap? I like where you're going with this.

roger - I have a petrified peanut my grandmother gave me. I think she found it in the dirt on her farm when she was little. I don't really even want it, but for some reason, I have no ability to throw it away.

*lynne* - Is it ok if I store my stuff in Malaysia too? Please send me the address. Thanks.

charli - Wah wah wah. See what I'm up against people? I'm also more than a little suspicious that old things of mine mysteriously disappear over time, and no one seems to know anything about them. Hmmm.

idaho dad - I agree. Sometimes I'll just sit and enjoy looking at the stuff... until I have to pack it all up again and put it away.

elizabeth - You women and your callous disregard for junk. Honestly, how do you sleep at night?

kathy - Ha! I have an old Mr. Steak button about the same size from when I worked in a restaurant as a teen. doo-doo-doo-doo... (um, that's the Twilight Zone song)

mom thumb - Hey, this isn't about Charli. This is MY blog, MY post, MY problem. Keep her out of this.

april - Rubbermaid it is. And I'll write "Jeff's memories, get your own!" in big black permanent marker on the top.

Theresa B (of Nebulopathy) said...

I have the perfect solution. Save anything you want, but get a cat that pees on everything. Then, every once in a while, go through your old stuff (gloves optional of course), blog about the stuff that has been peed on, and get rid of the originals.

Oh, and if you need a cat with this ability, I have one you can borrow for a while. No rush in returning him or anything. Really.

Michelle said...

Keep it. Keep it keep it keep it. I've tossed a few things and SOOO regret them now. I really want to go back to read that diary from when I was 13 but ... it's gone. Forever.

The weirdest thing I'm keeping though? Ummm. A promotional dog from the company I work for when it was a previous incarnation before it was bought out two times ago from before I worked at the company. (Company A was bought by Company B and both by Company C. I worked for Company B and now C but Company A ceased to exist three years before I started working for Company B.)

Janna said...

I can't bear to throw things away.
I still have spelling bee trophies from sixth grade (AND seventh grade).

Somewhere I still have the journal I kept in fourth grade.... and all the journals I kept through junior high, high school, college, and even a few after that.

These days I seem to have switched journalling for blogging. :)

I don't blame you for wanting to keep things. These are bits of your life... irreplaceable things. For goodness sake, keep them. They're meaningful to you and they're not hurting anything.

There's plenty of stuff I've stashed away throughout my life. Maybe someday I'll be "ready" to let go of it.
But not yet.

Janna said...

P.S.
As proof of the fact that I still care a lot about spelling, I'm now anguishing about whether "journalling" has one "L", two "L's", or whether it's even a word at all.

Pardon me while I go curl up in the fetal position with my trophies.

JD at I Do Things said...

I can tell you one thing: I've held onto a variety of stuff, but once I've thrown or given it away, it's completely wiped from my memory. I don't think I've ever once thought to myself, "Dang, why didn't I hang onto that ________." Once it's gone, it's gone.

Jeff said...

theresa b - Maybe I should pee on my things. Then my wife wouldn't touch them.

michelle - Easy now... I haven't had algebra since high school. But if I'm following you correctly, you're saying Dog D=(A*BC)+(BC)-3/B. Got it.

janna - I'm sorry, I didn't understand your comment. I was doing fine until I stumbled onto "journalling." After that it made no sense at all.

jd - Ok, you've convinced me. I'm going to toss all my ________'s immediately!

PatKG said...

Charli, I feel your pain! I married a pack rat, too. I'm pretty sure he has a T-shirt somewhere from the band Steve Lungstrom played in when they were in high school! I did make him clean out the crap when we moved. Jeff, LET THE HAM BUTTON GO. Your kids won't care, and you won't get anything for it on eBay. The patches are pretty cool.

Ed said...

I was going to say keep the things--spread them out so that there are tiny memories of you in every room of your house.

Then I read what Charli said. I think I'd hide it all and tell her you "took care of the problem".

carlae said...

I some of the lamest stuff known to man in my attic, but they give me the fondest memories. Granted some stuff has been thrown out, but certainly not the lame stuff. I am a nerd.

Mrs. R said...

I have a two-year rule: if I run across it and I haven't seen it, thought about it, or needed it in two years, it gets tossed. That includes items that have more "sentimental" value. For me it's like pulling off a band-aid. It hurts at first, but trust me, in a couple of days, you won't miss it. Or remember you had it in the first place.