Hoarding Vs. Memories
22 of 50
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If like me you have parents who grew up during and immediately after the Second World War you’ll probably be familiar with the phrase: “Don’t throw that away it’ll come in handy one day.” Very much a way of life to a time when resources were scarce or expensive and secondhand or reuse / recycle was very much more en vogue than it is today in our supposedly enlightened but still disposable society. Clothes where handed down from generation to generation until they did literally fall apart, and then tins of buttons and zips were kept from the clothes as they were relegated to dusters. Bicycles were passed on or sold secondhand when your legs got too long for the frame or cannibalised for parts or go-karts.
Ultimately though this resulted in a store of things being accumulated, and this is when perhaps “it’ll come in handy one day”, drifts unintentionally towards hoarding. Having to clear my parents house really brought this home to me. The boxes of “stuff” that served no real purpose but they had obviously kept because it might at some point in the future. My Dad in particular had hobbies that varied widely and liked to keep current. Everything from amateur radio to photography and all points in between. I was able to pass on his amateur radio equipment and sell some of his cameras and other kit, but some of it was considered obsolete and no one wanted it. I kept a few items myself but ultimately some had to go and be recycled.
My Mum collected elephants. Fortunately she never opened the elephant sanctuary, but she has a lot of carved wooden elephants, some china and others of different material. I don’t know what to do with these, I can’t bring myself to throw them away or donate them to charity so at the moment they’re mine to look after. She has some of them with her in the care home where she now lives but there are too many for her to have all of them in her room (although the devil in me would like to see the look on the care staff faces if I took them all in to her one day when I visit).
Having to do all this sorting of their stuff has also made me conscious of how much of my own I have stored. Not all of it really having a purpose. I’ll never be one for a minimalist lifestyle, although I doubt that if I lost all my possessions tomorrow that I would replace them like for like. Of course I have accumulated more stuff sorting through my parents. I didn’t adopt a one in one out policy or anything like that, although what I have accumulated since has mostly been on the basis of sentimentality more than anything else. Ultimately I currently have no heirs, so although someone will have to sort through my stuff when I’m gone the burden won’t necessarily fall on a relative, but I do feel the need to do some serious decluttering as we head towards our house move. I’m sure there is stuff in our loft that was put there when we moved here and hasn’t been touched since, so I don’t intend to move it again, at least not any further than the recycling centre or ebay. I want to be much more intentional about what I keep going forward. There’s nothing wrong with keeping things that are of sentimental value or can be genuinely reused, but I don’t think I need 3 tins of buttons and 2 tins of zips.
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