by Susan McCarthy
This fall, I had the opportunity to teach a couple of community education workshops about decluttering one’s home. When people would speak up about their individual situations, the idea that one’s stuff wasn’t just stuff was emphasized over and again.
Some of the trickiest, most emotional stuff to declutter is memorabilia. And, if you are a parent (of young or adult children), you may feel that you are the conservator of your children’s memorabilia – not stuff that your child has decided to hold onto but items that you feel that they’ll want someday (a variation on 'just in case' clutter.)
I’d hear the workshop participants’ voices tighten as they described the overwhelming amount of stuff that they felt might be important to their child someday (in many cases, the individual knows their kids, teens and adults, have no interest in the items).
You don’t need to toss all these items, but you want to be more selective about what you keep. A few mementos are special. But, when everything is kept as if it is special, then nothing is special.
Remember, memories aren't held in items; they belong to an individual. It’s enjoyable to hold a memento and use it to recall a time within one’s life; however, discarding an item doesn’t eliminate the memory of that time. Whether the items are mementos of your life or your children’s lives, you want to curate them so to emphasize each item’s special memories.
How to Curate Mementos
When it comes to decluttering mementos, a more appropriate verb is ‘curate.’ By curating a collection, you are selecting the items that are the best representatives for a group of items or time period.
You will not curate items that belong to someone else in your family. You can only go through items that you are keeping for yourself or for a child (including adult children).
Remember, fewer items feel more special. When you curate items, you create a space around each item, so it can evoke clearer memories uncluttered by less important or less reminiscent items. The memories aren't in the items, but the people who hold these memories.
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