What to do? What to do? What to do?
"It" happens every year about this time. Well, "it" happens almost every year and I do believe that "it" has been several years now so "it" is particularly time-intensive, thought provoking and messy this time around. I ask myself the same questions every time...
"Why do I keep all of this STUFF and what am I going to do with it?"
I go through the boxes from storage, decide to throw away a few items, rearrange the contents of said boxes, re-label each box with the current date and, invariably, end up with approximately the same number of boxes. The boxes are then returned to their proper places in a somewhat more organized fashion. But why? I think it is as if I need to re-establish a relationship with all of my possessions and reaffirm that they exist.
Yes, toddler outfit from 1969 that my mother saved so that one day you can adorn another child in a different era, I affirm your existence. Now, get back in the box until I reaffirm you next year!
You got it. I not only save my own stuff, I save stuff my mother saved so that one day I can pass along another box to my daughter who can then save the same stuff and go through the same tormenting procedure every year. It is a vicious cycle that no one seems willing to break. Now, don't get me wrong. It is not harmful in any way to me, or the general public for that matter, so why change now? Well, the truth is that now is the time because our 750 square foot condo and two storage lockers cannot retain the amount of stuff we currently own. My sanity is at stake!
Some stuff is easier to part with than others. The Animal Muppet I kept because I thought someday I would be a millionaire by selling it on EBay is now gone. The third set of dishes we acquired when selling our cabin - donated. And, yes, the 1969 toddler outfit is, well, actually back in the box because my sister is pregnant and I think if she has a girl it would look adorable on my niece! I admit here that I am not fully cured of my pack rat syndrome, but ask me again next year if she has a boy.
The dilemma herein emerged when I rediscovered all of the letters, cards and correspondences that I have kept. Until now, these letters and such have been spread out among multiple boxes in various locations. I would only come across them in fleeting moments when I scanned through a handful of boxes every so often. Following the sale of our cabin, all of our possessions have become contained within the previously mentioned limited space. It has been, therefore, much easier to find all of the correspondences and subsequently organize them.
But, now back to my original question, "what to do?" These letters and cards are dated before I was born and continue until today, though decreasing in number exponentially since the advent of Facebook. The communications, conversations and memories that they represent are irreplaceable. The information, though dated, is an important reflection of the times that were.
Who, besides me of course, keeps cards or letters anymore? Who actually receives cards or letters anymore? Even around the holidays the postal carrier is twiddling his thumbs wondering where the cards are. The written - truly hand-written
- word is becoming a lost art. Whose penmanship and correspondence skills are up to snuff these days? I suspect the answer to this question is those over the age of "I-remember-when-there-were-dot-matrix-printers-and-when-computer-screens-were-green."
Regardless of when they were written and from whom they were sent, what is their purpose in my life right now? Yes, they take up space in my storage - at least one Rubbermaid box full of space. Is there something more to them? I suppose I could go through and read every one. I could just recycle them. But there seems to be more to these correspondences than just the paper on which they are written.
The letters are these individuals' life experiences at that moment. Birth announcements, thank you cards, wedding invitations, "just because" letters from friends and family members... I did read some of them. I cried a few tears reading thoughtful expressions of sympathy when my dad passed away. I laughed out loud when I found a five-dollar bill in a birthday card from my grandparents. I struggled to figure out who "Barb" was and still don't know! What are these letters but communications from the past?
Based on some serious reflection, I now know what to do. My resolution is this:
- Correspondence, I acknowledge your existence.
- I acknowledge your purpose in my life and in the life of the individual
who sent you.
- I acknowledge those individuals who are still in my life and even some
who are not.
- For those individuals who are still on this earth, you will receive a small
package from me. It will contain memories that you may or may not
remember along with a handwritten note from me thanking you for being
in my life, then and now.
My point in all of this? Send someone a note today... hand-written... thanking him or her for being in your life today. Who knows? This little communication may be saved for several decades only to resurface at the most opportune moment in that person's life.