Monday, March 12, 2012

Are you sentimentally attached to clutter?

I need a 12 step program for people who are sentimentally attached to clutter.  That's one of my biggest bugaboos in my quest for a streamlined home.  Yet, I am determined to overcome this mindset.

I closed out my father's house last year after he moved into assisted living.  So, I have stuff that he kept from WWII, from my grandfather's cattle farm, from my late aunt, and from my late mother, as well as things that people have given to me or that remind me of my children's childhood or that dear hubby and I acquired at some meaningful occasion. 

Since girlhood, I have been a sentimental clutterer.  I kept a bulletin board in my room on which I pinned movie tickets from dates or outings with friends, corsages that dried nearly to dust, and, once, the string of a hot air balloon  which I kept until it had almost no more air left in it.  Those things are long gone, but I have the new equivalent.

Of course, some sentimental treasures are worth keeping.  I still have my husband's letters from when we were engaged, and he went to another city to begin his work, while I waited behind until we married.   I also have cards and letters he has given me through the years.  Those are staying put.  I also do have some antiques that I will keep.

Sentimentality toward clutter can come in a number of ways:

1)  Sometimes, people hold on to objects that even have negative responses associated with them. 
2)  Sometimes, people hang on to objects out of guilt.  For example, if someone gives you something, you may feel obligated to keep it.  Perhaps, you never wanted it in the first place.  Perhaps, you once did, but it no longer fits your home.
3)  Sometimes, people hold onto objects because they associate them with happy times and people whom they love. 

None of the above is necessarily right or wrong.  However, if clutter like this does get in the way of your lifestyle or becomes a burden, it's time to whittle it down.  For the sentimental person, deciding what to keep and what to throw can create a little anxiety.  It's best to remember that, in the end, it's only stuff, and it is not equivalent to people, memories, or our personal identity.

(Don't forget to leave a comment on by April 10th to be entered in a drawing to receive a copy of my historical novel, "A Tree Firmly Planted".   



Sarah @ Modern Country Style said...

I'm pretty good with clutter on the whole but, as my children grow up, I can feel myself wanting to hoard!!!


Elizabeth said...

Children's stuff is the hardest to let go of. My mother gave me some little dresses that I wore, and I still have them. I plan to pass them on to my daughter.

With my kids, at the end of each school year, we went through all of their stuff together and decided what to keep.

They are late twenties/thirty now, and I still have a few little hand prints and little handmade Christmas items from them.