Sentimental Collectors

Yesterday, I was thinking about "collectors." I'm not talking about the extreme hoarding cases you may have recently seen on television. I'm referring more to the people who have a few boxes and files of sentimental old stuff that they've hung onto over the years.

People hang onto to old stuff for a lot of reasons. Sometimes it's because they believe the objects may be useful "one day." Other times, they have guilt over throwing away something that still has a little bit of life left in it (even if the person hanging onto the thing may NEVER be the one to squeeze out that last bit of life). Still others keep old unwanted gifts simply because they feel too guilty to get rid of them.

Then there are the folks that I lovingly call the "sentimental collectors." Many of my clients have boxes, chests, and drawers full of items that they keep because of the fond memories the items evoke. I totally relate to these folks because I have my own boxes of old treasures. There's the box containing the 1950's Barbie doll with the totally cool outfits that my grandmother sewed and crocheted for her. There's the high school trophies and yearbooks. Why, just last week I pulled out my senior yearbook to reminisce with an school chum I've reconnected with.

And yesterday I was reminded of my personal favorite keepsake treasures: the cards my father has given me over the years. Every Valentine's day that I can recall, I've received a card from my father, and I've kept them all. Just yesterday he emailed me a card that I printed out and have sitting on my desk. You see, I'm a 'daddy's girl' in a big way.

Turns out, dad's a sentimental collector too. I didn't realize this until I recently visited my parents in their newly renovated home. Dad, recently retired, now has his art studio in the finished attic of their house which sits right on the Cartecay river in north Georgia. While showing me around his new sanctuary, I noticed one corner wall that was covered in old cards and pictures I'd given him over the years. I had no idea that he had saved all that stuff. And now it had earned a special spot in his favorite hangout. My heart swells just thinking about it.

So, even though I'm a pretty prolific purger by nature, I understand that some stuff is just too special, too sweet, to throw away. But some people go too far in that direction. They feel that, just because the item once belonged to a loved one, it's worth keeping. The thing to remember is that many of items that people leave behind may have meant NOTHING to the previous owner. Perhaps they just hadn't gotten around to donating or throwing the darn thing away.

Don't save stuff just because it once sat in the dusty basement of a person you cared about. Save it because of the personal, warm memories you have of the item. Make sure it's earned the right to take up valuable space in your world.