I’ve written about how I recently dealt with the sentimental paper clutter I’d been carting around for years. Now I need to confess to some non-paper, large item, sentimental clutter that I struggle over.
The first involves a bit of back story. I’d been helping my mom’s family clean out my grandmother’s home and garage, and I’d been able to select and keep a few furniture pieces that held loads of memories for me. I was so glad to bring home these items; they put a smile on my face and made me think of her. As the moving truck pulled up in our driveway, I gave directions on where I wanted the things to go. We were the last stop on their list for the day; they’d dropped some things off at my sister’s house and my parent’s house and now were finishing their job at ours.
After getting things placed in the right rooms, I headed back into the garage, where I discovered them unloading a decrepit, broken-legged cedar chest onto the garage floor, complete with unattached lid (with holes in it).
I flipped. “I said I didn’t want that!!” I hollered, in a joking-but-not-really-joking way.
One of the movers cracked up. “Yeah, he said you’d say that,” he laughed, referring to my dad.
And why, you ask, would I not just cart the falling-apart cedar chest to the curb and pitch it? Because my great-grandfather made it. Those little words completely transform my view of that piece of furniture; it makes me responsible for it, in a way, and makes me feel the need to fix it, to mend it, to make it usable again, however that might be done.
The other piece of furniture is a beautiful chair that was in my other grandparents’ home. It has an ornately carved back of dark wood, with hand-embroidered back and seat cushions done by my grandmother: again, she made it, and now I feel responsible for it. It actually hadn’t been a problem until our last move; up until now, the chair always had a place to “live,” even if it didn’t exactly match the rest of the house. Here, though, there really was no place to put it; it was just sitting in the basement collecting dust, until my daughter needed a chair in her room. I threw a bedsheet over it and cinched it with a big purple ribbon: instant slipcover for a chair that would have otherwise never been used. (My dad was teasing me about being so cheap that I didn’t want to buy a chair, but it’s hard to justify buying a chair when there’s a usable one stashed in the basement.)
I think this is my biggest struggle with some sentimental “stuff:” that sense of responsibility toward it, the feeling that it’s my “job” to “take care” of it; that it’s been “entrusted” to me. There are plenty of sentimental things that I’m happy to have, but some items have turned into burdens more than blessings. In spite of that, I admit that I don’t know how to get past that idea of “responsibility” and finally let go of them.