George Carlin has a really funny stand-up piece he does about "stuff" and the way people horde stuff and have to buy bigger houses to put their stuff into. As I was dusting the house today, I realized I really do have a lot of stuff. I have little knick-knacks of all kinds and feel like I have to keep them because someone took time to buy it for me. I rarely buy useless stuff for myself, but I get a lot of stuff as gifts -- especially from my mother. She likes to give stuff as presents. It's not stuff we need, but stuff she thinks is cute and she doesn't want to get it for herself, but doesn't want to leave it behind either because she can't because it's too cute or pretty or funny (sometimes strange).
I have candle holders, bells, figurines of little animals, little stuffed toys, fake flowers arrangements, plaques with little sayings, vases, coasters, picture frames . . .
I also have books, tons of books. I could open a library. I have read most of them, but not all. I seriously doubt I will read most of them again, though I do use some of them for reference when writing something or if I need to look something up. But I can't bear to part with them. So, here they are and I must dust them along with my other stuff.
In the diningroom is a shadowbox that used to belong to my grandmother that is now full of little mouse figurines of all kinds that I have collected over the years. I started out with one little mouse my father gave me and now I have more than 100 of them. The little mouse he gave me is named "Troubles" and is crying and holding his tiny bandaged tail. My father gave me that when I was going through some hard times as a teenager. It means a lot to me. Lots of my stuff means a lot to me and I associate it with the person who gave it to me. I find it easier to toss out or give away if I have no real connection to the person who gave it to me, but if it is someone who I am very close to, I can't part with it.
My mother is the queen of horders. Her house is like a museum of useless stuff. Knick-knacks fill entire shelves and tabletops. She has all sorts of things hanging from lamps and pictures on walls. Every room of the house if full of framed photos of family members, living and dead. I think she has kept everything anyone has ever given her and my father. It means a lot to her when people give her something so she treasures it.
My mother also is a horder of stuff that makes no sense...broken blenders, broken phones, small appliances that no longer work and have been replaced with new, sheets and blankets from years gone by that are thin from wear. She buys new, but cannot get rid of the old.
I think much of the reason we save stuff is because it is a connection with the past, and if that connection is a good one. I got rid of some things from my high school years which I now regret. I wasn't the most popular person in high school and there were many times I would cry myself to sleep. But getting rid of the stuff didn't erase those things from my mind and I now wish I hadn't gotten rid of it all. I am older and though I still remember painful times in my life, I can remember without pain, and now regret getting rid of parts of my life that I would now like to look back on. My children would have liked to have some of the things I tossed away. But I still have enough to remember who I was back then.
So, when I am cleaning my stuff, instead of complaining about all the work that is involved, I am going to try to slow down and remember who gave me what, when and what for...what the days were like then.