Last fall I set a goal for the new year. I was going to thin, thin, thin. Not myself but our closets, drawers and cupboards. The idea was to give away the bazillion objects I've collected over the years, some of which I never use, others rarely and a few I have forgotten I own!
Easier said than done.
There are things from my wedding, things given by our parents, and children's things. The heart skips a beat and eyes go wide upon discovering the notice from 2003 for picking up Neil's driver's license, Josh's prize-winning elementary school story, my MIL's handwritten note from her 99th birthday, the folding hairbrush my brother gave me 40 years ago, and the letters Tarun and I wrote each other in another century.
How about the Corelle glassware gifted to us in 1982 by our host family and stoneware plates we bought with our measly income in Iowa? What about the half-dozen, half-done creative pieces from the high school wood shop and the hand-painted Mother's Day flower pots from elementary school?
Most troublesome are the Indian clothes that no longer fit or have gone out of style. The other clothes I can drop off at a dozen donation boxes near me. The Indian clothes have to be ferried to the Motherland or pitched. Being a homemaker in analog times means discovering all kinds of devices - some the size of small mammals - including speakers, amps, DVD players, VHS players and whatnot.
I was quickly mired in confusion from the onslaught of pure gold that defines our family's DNA, aww-inspiring and head scratching moments and the memories that transport me into a whirlpool of emotions.
So, I set rules for myself.
If it's broken, torn, damaged - ignore the sentimentality and pitch.
Did both kids use this a lot? Then keep, else give. Kids memorabilia - keep selected ones. Their first outfits - keep because Mina wore them and maybe her kids will too! Make two boxes and pass one to each son.
Keep one box of toys for the grandkids when they visit.
Our very first boarding passes, PhD and undergrad transcripts, wedding gifts from our parents and other early memorabilia - keep one box max.
Clothes, belts, ties, handbags and other fashion accessories we have not used since before the pandemic - give, for sure.
If it is an old bill for a service we don't use and there's no identifying info then recycle, else shred (exhausting!)
Wire hangers - omg, lethal! - recycle at the dry cleaners...so far 100 and counting.
Linen closet - pitch ruthlessly especially the myriad hotel toiletries from years ago.
Old laptops and analog and digital devices - recycle at Best Buy (while it's still around!) but keep one camera that can play the VHS-C cassettes and one VCR that plays VHS tapes.
Books - only 10,000 in our house! - make me sneeze as soon as I make eye contact with them. Children's book save only ONE box of the favorite books that I want to read to the grandkids. Coffee table books save a couple. DVDs and music CDs definitely give. Schedule a pickup with pickupplease.org to donate the rest of the books and music and movies.
I've done the study, kitchen, one bookshelf, and one closet so far with these rules. That means I have only 99 more places to go. The rules work well but it is emotionally exhausting to stick to them. May the universe give me strength so I can march on and may the force keep me from chickening out in favor of safety!