Books and articles can be found often today about cleaning out the clutter. The web site e-how contains tip after tip for getting rid of “stuff”: tips to reduce, organize, feng shui, clear, and clean your clutter. So do About.com, and a myriad of other help sites on the Internet. There are lists of books on Amazon.com that offer the same kind of help, even more detailed, entering the psychological motivation of saving stuff. And if you still haven’t been convinced to engage in a battle with your belongings, just watch the TV show Hoarders, a true-life lesson in what may happen if you don’t start the fight now!
My husband and I have lived in our current home since the 1970’s. We both accumulate things and like lots of stuff, but we are organized and are not over the top yet. We take items to second-hand stores, I routinely give away books to my colleagues at school, and we have given quite a few things to our children. Yet, we have so much more to do. We are finding homes for things we no longer find useful or needed. My husband did a lot of beadwork earlier in his life, but he hasn’t for years, and he would like to find a person who would use and enjoy the materials. And-my mother was a knitter. I have saved her knitting basket, with yarn and needles, hoping that someday I would learn to knit. I don’t think it’s going to happen. When I spend time sitting, I’m always going to be reading or writing.
This is quite a long introduction to my point. Although we have a goal of cleaning out the clutter, keeping only those things that are meaningful to us, I want to emphasize that we are never going to give away the LL Bean, ragg wool cardigan that hangs in the back hall. It’s old, has holes in the elbows, but it still zips and is very very warm. Everyone in the family, as well as guests, has worn it at one time or another. Sometimes people fight over it. My grandson has grown old enough to wear it. There are things that mean something because they’re valuable in dollars, and there are things that are valuable because they create a thread of memory. My children come for a visit, say “there’s the sweater” and somehow feel comforted that although there are new cabinets in the kitchen, the house is a different color, and a new car is in the driveway, the sweater remains—a comforting and ‘warm’ memory of their past.