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The Upside of Downsizing – Special Memories to Cherish

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By Maria Myers

There comes a time when we are downsizing the accumulation of “stuff” in our lives. We could be moving from a house to an apartment. Or like me, going through your parent’s belongings after one or both have passed away. My parents were both collectors of stuff and the basement of my childhood home has been overflowing with items. It was an overwhelming project for Dad and he has graciously allowed my organizing tendencies to go at the project with gusto.

As a kid I would have moments of re-organizing and of cleaning out my bedroom. Mom would nervously stand in the doorway and say “oh, you might need that someday” or “Don’t throw that out!” I would just roll my eyes at her and plop it into the garbage bag. So even now as Mom has passed away for many years now, I still feel like she is peering over my shoulder as I toss away her calendars and teaching lessons. I am sure she is cringing, but I ask a silent prayer for her understanding.

However, I do try and be careful. When I come across cards, letter, and pictures I gently set these aside. These items are attached with strong memories to people our family loved. Anything else I am unsure of I will put in a basket for Dad to go through later. I usually have a pile for recycle, giving away, trash, and for keeping. I once read that if you have an emotional tie to an item then it should be something you keep. I feel like I will keep that item for a few years and then I’ll go through these items again later to see if they still hold the same emotions. If not, then I’ll know it’s time to let that item go.

As I go through this organizing process it’s interesting to see where these emotional ties lead me. Usually it is letters I have written to Mom that I decide to keep, a few stuffed toys, and then most recently it was a book. Goldilocks and the Three Bears. When I saw the cover, my heart leapt with recognition even though I hadn’t seen the book in decades. I remember loving this book and was stunned when I saw the note inside saying it was a present from my Grandma when I was 3 years old. What a flood of happy memories that came pouring over me of having the book in my hands once more. But more importantly, it brought back the love of a wonderful grandma. This was definitely going in my “keep” pile. Downsizing can be tough when going through things that keep our life busy. But I find those moments of loving memories make the process thoughtful and enjoyable.

If you are a parent, it’s a gift to set aside a few special items in your child’s life that they have outgrown. As you can see, they can bring back very special family memories later. And, if you are the adult child receiving them, the gratitude and memories remind us of special moments and family members throughout our lives. Pass it on.

Image courtesy of nonicknamephoto at

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