Clutter. Who defines it? As the New Year ushers in, many of this weekâ€™s talk shows offered tips on de-cluttering our lives. Weâ€™re encouraged to organize everything from our closets to our finances, lose weight, and toss or give-away â€œstuffâ€ we no longer use or need. Itâ€™s a way of starting 2015 fresh.
I find this somewhat perplexing. The past few months weâ€™ve been urged to buy, buy, buy, and now weâ€™re to shed, shed, shed. Itâ€™s a system that keeps our economy humming and our guilt healthy. But what, in the big world of â€œstuffâ€ is treasured, and what is simply detritus? I struggle with the difference.
My Achilles is sentimentality. I have items that I chose not to use or give away because they were my grandmotherâ€™s or even my great-grandmotherâ€™s. I also have objects my children made, gave me, or where part of their childhood. Although some are worn and tattered, they are not replaceable. I view them with a hallowed responsibility and cage them in various colored totes stored in our crawlspace. I should give them parole more often. Wise people do that.
As an example, last night we had dinner with my stepdaughterâ€™s family. The table linens included hand crocheted placemats made by my husbandâ€™s grandmother. Her work was delicate and as I traced a finger around the pattern I was left with a feeling of awe. Did she have a clue that they would be gracing the table of her great-granddaughter one day? Probably not. Good â€œstuff?â€ I vote yes.
But then there is the other â€œstuffâ€ that accumulates. Technology items Iâ€™m nervous to toss, for instance, because I might somehow need it. The amalgam of wires and disc drives and cassette tapes sit gathering dust mostly because I donâ€™t feel comfortable with how quickly technology changes. Yesterdayâ€™s record albums are back in vogue, right? Maybe my stack of VHS movies will be a trend too. Future generations need to know the frustration of a tape getting eaten just as the movie reaches the climax, just as they need to know the hum and snap as a VHS tape rewinds to the end. Iâ€™d hate to think the adage â€œPlease be kind and rewindâ€ would be lost to the ages.
So, my friends, good luck with the cultural ripples that follow the calendar. Thanksgiving , Christmas, and New Yearâ€™s are a time for letting go; becoming the trifecta of excess, and perhaps remorse, as the cheer goggles come off. Now that 2015 has officially launched we are supposed to make amends in all areas and start fresh. Like the ancient VHS, we are all given a rewind option to start over. Itâ€™s just that I canâ€™t let go of the VHS in a world of live streaming. Sigh.