When you think of memorabilia, what comes to mind? To me, it’s anything that is meant to remind us of something, really. And there is an near limitless supply of things that come under that category!
First of all, there are heirloom type things that are meant to remind us of family members, alive or dead. These have either been given to us directly or they have ended up in our homes after a loved one has passed away. Who doesn’t have some of granny’s old silverware or jewellery, or grandpa’s stamp collection or books sitting somewhere in a forgotten place? Interestingly, there is a clear distinction between the things that were given and those that were inherited.
We would consider both memorabilia, but the stuff you have inherited after a death are clearly different as they just ‘happened’ to appear at your doorstep and are filled with obligations (don’t throw me out, because…) or guilt (how could I possibly not hang on to this?). Compare this with the loving care given to the choice of items gifted to you directly and you can see that the gifts hold a very positive memory, where the rest is really ‘leftovers from someone who is gone’.
Another large group of things in our home that could be called memorabilia are the trinkets we have brought back from a memorable vacation. Let’s be fair: we often stray from the path of clarity when we are on a holiday. It’s a foreign place full of wonders and you wish to extend the feeling of freedom, joy and excitement to a time when you are back home and things are looking a little bleaker.
Of course you’ll buy some stuff and you’ll get some mileage out of it in terms of fresh memories. But then, over time, the memories will fade and the trinkets you brought back are just that: trinkets often devoid of practical use that ultimately don’t really fit into your homes after all. Once they no longer spark that sense of adventure, novelty and joy in you they have served their purpose and turn into just another thing sitting on the windowsill or in a presentation cupboard.
Speaking of things that come with lots of jolly and turn into ballast only weeks later, look no further than Christmas cards or birthday wishes. It’s a fine tradition to hang those up or display them somewhere, but most of us tend to hang on to them for much too long. Once the Christmas tree has gone, cards linger for weeks longer, and then are boxed away for future reference. Why keep them all? Have you ever looked at them except when you were deciding if you could part with them? Apart from that, there will be a new selection coming your way only 11 months from now!
I would also include a certain type of gifts into this group: the ones you receive from people who don’t quite know what to give, but feel obliged to give something nevertheless. Not quite memorabilia in the strictest of senses, but it fits the category for a particular reason: it holds and emotional memory of the act of giving and an obligation to keep it even if you don’t need or really want it.
If it serves no purpose for you now, that doesn’t take away that it served a purpose once at least: it was given to you as a show of some level of affection, albeit a very vague one. This said: that purpose has now evaporated and you are completely in your rights to let go of this thing!
It all boils down to positive memories and negative connotations with items, doesn’t it? It appears to me that these straggler items have no real place in your life beyond making you feel guilty or obliged. If nobody is really interested in them (ask you family before you take decisions), maybe it’s time to let them go?
Ask the ClutterMeister
Ideas to help clear away the mess in our homes and in our minds.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.