Monday, March 10, 2014

My year of less is more: what to do with memorabilia?

 My apologies if you're hoping for a clear answer to this question, but I haven't quite conquered this particular decluttering issue yet.  I think this is a hard one because it's often quite emotional.  And the big question I really haven't sorted out is what to do with living family member's memorabilia that is gifted to you (even if you might hate it).  But here are some thoughts I've gleaned so far.

One helpful suggestion that I read (somewhere?  On the inter web probably ...) is that a good way to decide what memorabilia to keep is to think about how you could display the items that are precious to you.  If they mean a lot then display them.  Don't keep them locked away.  You should select the ones that mean the most, the ones with a good story behind them, the ones that remind you of particular people or adventures.  Then you can enjoy them and so can others who visit you.

The challenge then, is that you can't display everything that means a lot to you because you won't have enough space.  So you will have to part with some of these possessions.  To help me in this decision making process I often think about what we'd keep if we moved overseas.  For many years we thought that we would, so I've often asked myself that question when I look at whether or not to keep an item.  And also assumed in my thinking that we wouldn't have a lot of storage space in Australia.

Recently I've had to go through our display cupboard because we need to move it out to make space for something else.  It has a lot of items that belonged to my two Grandmas.  I've been thinking about it a lot and reflecting on which of those items hold the most meaning for me.  Obviously they're all meaningful but I've been asking myself what I like the most and what represents them most to me.  And then I want to find a place for them to 'live' in the house.  

I've realised recently, that part of being unsentimental about keeping things is that I compensate by telling stories.  Family stories are fascinating to me and they don't need to be attached to a possession to be enjoyed. I've found sharing family stories very grounding and they have provided a lot of stability in the face of lots of childhood change.  I love watching my husband and his siblings get together - when they talk about their childhood it is funny and a great insight into what they were like as kids.  So at the end of the day, if the house burnt down, I'd be OK without these items, because I can still have the stories.  

I'd love to hear others experiences on this because it's one of the trickiest areas in decluttering.

2 comments:

Julia said...

Sorry Jenny, I'm no help at all here...I keep basically everything...wedding invitations, birthday cards (particularly if the sender is now dead),even thankyou notes from people...that's not even counting all the other associated crap, like train tickets from my trip to the uk in 1999....

Kate said...

Hi Jenny, I was having this conversation with my mum just the other day. Their house is furnished with all the 'precious' and 'memorable' antique furniture from deceased family members that no one else wanted but thought it was important to keep (read: monstrous dark wood sideboards and hundreds of chairs!) We came to the conclusion that the reason the object is important is because it reminds us of a person. We decided that it would be far nicer and certainly more space efficient to toss the furniture and have a lovely photo of the person on display instead (hopefully on a less monstrous sideboard).