As more of my friends and relatives have downsized, moved, or died, I have become conscious of how much clutter I am leaving behind for my family to clean up after my death; and I’ve started making plans to reduce the number of my possessions, leaving me with a simple and tidy environment.
First of all, I wanted to clean out my file drawers. Besides the usual household stuff, they contained about 30 years worth of papers generated by doing genealogy. In addition, there were papers left by my father, things like Great Aunt Sarah’s will. So I decided to make family history albums to incorporate at least part of the wealth of information I’d collected and the old family photos I’d inherited.
This project took months. It included having charts professionally printed, buying albums, and new software as well as tons of photographic paper, many ink cartridges, and plastic sleeves to encase the printed pictures, many of which were taken 100 years ago or more. In the end, each album contained 117 pages and weighed 6.5 pounds. They included my great grandfather’s Civil War letters and an essay written by my great-great-grandfather on technical improvements to the common two-horse plough.
I had already started to weed my book collection by letting go of a lot of fiction. There are some favorite novels I kept, but I’ve gotten into the habit of reading fiction on my iPad and now keep hard copies of just nonfiction in which I tend to underline and write notes on the inside back cover.
My bedroom closet is overburdened with clothes. I have no pretensions to being a stylish woman and hang onto my wardrobe without regard to stylishness. This is probably because when I was growing up my mother made fun of “those insurance company girls who put all their money on their backs.” And my father believed that the fashion industry was invented just to get him to spend more money. (Was he wrong?) However, I have sabotaged my clothing austerity by gaining enough weight to need bigger clothes. So do I give away the pants and shirts I’ve outgrown? No, I pack them into boxes and hang onto them for when I lose the extra weight. Hah! Lately I’ve been taking lots of still usable clothing to the Goodwill store.
Another place I’ve frequented lately is the Best Buy store. They will recycle your electronics and I have rid myself of outdated gadgets there.
It is hard to maintain a strict attitude of “use it or lose it.” There are always sentimental reasons for hanging onto stuff, but I’m trying to limit sentimental things to what can be stored in one box, a large purple plastic memorabilia box.