Thursday, March 28, 2013

Memories or Junk

One of the hardest parts of any move is sorting through all the stuff that you never use but somehow find it hard to part with.

And how do you decide which of the kids artwork and handicrafts make the cut?
quinn.anya via photopin cc

My mother and my mother in law neatly illustrate two opposite ends of the spectrum on this issue.

When we were newly married and trying to furnish an apartment, my MIL offered us a dresser that was  in her basement.

"You just have to clean it out first," she said.

It turned out to be full of the Professor's school papers.  And I'm not talking interesting stuff like stories he wrote or drawings.  It was full of ditto master worksheets like circle the object that starts with the letter "C" and old spelling tests.

My mother, on the other hand, had to be watched carefully or she would throw away a book I was reading that I had left sitting on the coffee table.*

As a mom now myself I can emphasize with both approaches, the desire to hold on to tangible evidence of a time now past and the desire to have a clean slate and live in the present.

So when the kids were 7, 5, and 3, and we were facing a downsizing move, I decided to turn some of the decision making over to the kids.

I started with Oldest Girl.  I gathered up all her artwork, school papers, etc. and made a huge pile.

"I want you to sort through all these things and decide what is important to you to keep.  See this trash bin?  Throw away anything that isn't really important to you.  See this big bin?  This is for artwork that is special to you that you want to keep that we will put into storage so you won't have it now but will have it again someday.  And see this little bin?  This is for those few things that are so special to you they need to move with us so you can have them near you."

Oldest girl took the job very seriously.  She sat down and carefully considered each piece of paper.  Some items moved from the storage box to the keep box and back several times as she weighed her options.  In the end, there was an overflowing trash bin and full storage and keep bins with their lids on.

So I moved on to music girl and gave her the same instructions.

Music girl looked at the situation.

"You have these sizes wrong," she said, switching the larger storage bin for the smaller keep bin.  She then got down to work.

In the end, there was nothing in the trash bin, a couple items in the storage bin and a completely overflowing keep bin.

I didn't even try with Imagination boy.

Sometimes it is hard to part with the objects that spark memories.  I'm greatful that I never have to part with the memories themselves.  And thus this blog.

*This was especially true if the book had a scantily clad woman on the cover, which happened a lot since I read a lot of science fiction as a teenager and it was practically a requirement to have a scantily clad woman on the cover whether the story included any women or not.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. We are working through these very issues over here. One thing that I began doing was snapping photos of art work and school work the kids really loved and publishing and printing it from the blog. Much easier to store and move....I do have a box of lapbooks up in the closet and am wondering if they really NEED to continue to move with us....really? I don't have an answer at this point.