Your Great Aunt Mildred’s Bud Vase…

…And other things you can’t live without.

You are NOT flinging Aunt Mildred, ok? Let’s establish that first. Anything that belonged to her, that reminds you of her, that brings back fuzzy summer day memories as a child on her front porch….These are NOT Aunt Mildred.

They are your memories. Aunt Mildred will live on only as long as someone remembers her with love. Her bud vase may end up with someone who never knew her, never heard of her, isn’t related to her in any way, but simply loves the color or shape after you divest yourself of her vase, but she will live in your heart till you go.

That doesn’t mean you have to get rid of it. It just means that you can’t keep EVERYTHING of Aunt Mildred’s, because by doing that, these items lose their magic, their specialness.

I own (protect, am the guardian of) a broken (re-glued), rather pretty to me planter that belonged to my great-grandmother Casey. It suits my style, and it still holds a plant (unlike the planter destroyed this morning by Gandolf, one our cats, who was aggravated at a forced fasting….)

vase

It is the only thing I own of hers; I never met her, it doesn’t bring back memories of HER. But it recalls many wonderful afternoons spent in her home where her two daughters continued to live until 1980. If I had kept (been given the chance to keep) everything from that house, the memory wouldn’t be so grand.

I take that back. I also possess a glass-doored bookcase with an encyclopedia from 1926, which while I like to think belonged to my great-grandfather, but didn’t as he died in 1924. It probably got my grandfather through college; it was one of the few things he chose to keep when the house was broken up (or allowed or offered or…well it was 30 years ago, I need to let it go…)bookcase

Oh, and years later, I drove past the house and found someone finally renovating (not well, certainly, but renovating rather than tearing down) and I chatted for a few minutes as I looked around from the hallway, and I saw it as it was back when I was little, not as it was currently…. Every little wisp of sunlight spun the carpets and the furniture and the playtime into clear focus in my mind. The man gave me a piece of the ceiling- ornamental horse haired patterned- and I framed it and it hangs on my wall….

These are memories I can not pass on to my daughter. She will not have the same memory of why she might want to own this odd little framed item, except that she may treasure it because I treasured it.

So, the point is this. If you are keeping something that does give you pleasure, and it is lovely to look at and suits your space, wonderful! Surround yourself with YOUR things, not with things that were on sale as the latest and greatest decorating scheme! (Large wooden bowls filled with spheres confound me. Don’t you own anything to display that MEANS anything?)

If you own something and it does have a history, write down it’s story. Take a photo of it, put the story with it, create a journal so that your descendants can know you and your ancestors.

We live in an odd time, where every little change is recorded photographically; will photos and owning them mean the same thing; will they be as special and revered as the rare photo of my great-great-great grandfather? Every utterance we make online is filed somewhere, but are there records of your handwriting someplace?

Is everything you own color-coordinated and texture specific and themed and absolutely lacking any sentimental meaning?

Examine why you are keeping the broken toy. If it belonged to your dad, and its stuffed in a box in the back of the closet, take a photo of it and toss it. Better yet, find a spot on the mantel and clean it and display it and have your dad tell the story to your little ones about the day Santa gave him this toy, and how sad he was to have it break.

Keep things, fine. (There is no way I am going minimal without being dragged against my will, I can’t ask that of you) But keep things you LOVE.

paintbrushes (Something else that will survive the flinging. A Pringles can, circa 1982, made in high school—Miss Volpe’s art class—probably the only thing I own from high school, its a diary of who I was back then….and it is full of paint brushes that my grandfather used, and that I used in college and to this day….memories too strong, of linseed oil, of sneaking into the painting room after I should be in bed, watching Daddy Gus paint….)

Will I get to 27 things to fling?? Highly doubt it this round. But, if I do, most may end up being gifts to others, who I feel may appreciate and honor their existence.

Far better that you present these items, (complete with memories in a note card in your own handwriting,) than leaving them for someone to have to clean out in a time of emotion and sadness and depression, when time and distance cause them to be flung without regard.

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