When You Can’t Bring Yourself to Throw Away a Scrap of Paper

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source: awhiskandaspoon

We’re in the midst of moving once again, and in the repacking I just found a tub of miscellani that definitely had not been unpacked since we moved from Nashville, two and a half years ago.

Which of course begs the question: when is it time to let go?

It was mostly framed pictures, a few from our wedding and a few of friends not spoken to for years. Falling-apart frames and ones with itty-bitty pictures glued around the outside. Frames proclaiming the year 2004 and “i do!”

No longer newlyweds – our 8-year anniversary is in July – is it time to let these things pass on to younger thrift-store shoppers? I removed some of the pictures from frames, tucking them into albums, posting them to Facebook for a smile.

Some photos caused me to pause, like the one of my best friend’s mother dancing with exhilaration at my wedding. My friend is marrying in July – I am in her wedding as she was in mine – and her mom won’t be there. She succumbed to ovarian cancer three years ago.

And that thought makes me cling to the pieces of the box, wondering if there will come a time when I wish I hadn’t thrown away the slip of paper with a Chinese take-out order on it in my own mother’s handwriting. What if I need that piece of her? What if I bemoan the loss of a vanilla candle, a stuffed toy, a piece of newspaper in the coming months?

Why is it so difficult to part with “stuff”?

I so long for simplicity and vapidly declare my intention to weed out half of our belongings during this across-campus move. In my head, I believe it. But tugs of my heart won’t let me toss the loopy cursive of my mommy in the trash can.

9 thoughts on “When You Can’t Bring Yourself to Throw Away a Scrap of Paper

  1. When we moved a year ago, I finally tossed the dried bouquets from my wedding and my bridesmaid’s bouquet from our sister-in-law’s wedding. I went to the edge of the field behind our house, prayed for our marriages and tossed them out there to disintegrate. (I tossed mine over my shoulder :0)

  2. I struggle with this too. My home should be big enough for our family, yet there doesn’t seem to be enough space. So, I am telling myself I have too much junk. It feels like our stuff is closing in on us. Yet, it’s hard to get rid of it. I was hoping to use some of my maternity leave to purge. It’s halfway over and I haven’t purged one thing. Maybe this week. 🙂

  3. Yesterday I got out the recipe album my mom gave me a few years ago, just to look at both my grandmother’s handwritten recipes. I’m so glad somebody saved them!!! Our family has moved uncountable times, and I tend to just get to this place where I wish for a selective lightning strike… the more we move, the less we own… and yet–there are some precious things worth keeping.

  4. I think it is okay to keep mementos of those we love. While you can scan the pictures, keep the pieces of paper that mean a lot to you. You can always paste them in a scrapbook or something. I weeded through our wedding cards when we had been married about 10 years and got rid of about half of them. Ten years later I truly wish I hadn’t. Good luck with your move!

  5. After living in our town home for six years, we had definitely accumulated too much ‘stuff’, especially when we started getting ready to convert one of our spare bedrooms into the nursery. I found that I still couldn’t part with some ‘momentos’ and just created a couple of storage crates into which we could place these special items. I still have handwritten notes from my mommy, wedding memories from (gasp) almost 16 years ago and the collar from our first dog – who’s been gone for six years now. I had some cathartic cries and wonderful belly laughs sifting through these memories. So, I say some of the momentos are worth keeping and I think it’s great to use moving time as a time to reflect on where we’ve come from, where we’re going and what’s really important in life :). You are definitely not alone in your struggle to ‘declutter’ yet hang on to precious memories!

  6. Since I am in the middle of the same issues, I totally relate to this post. What do I toss? Certainly not things with my mother’s handwriting, but I am tossing many possessions that have no familial or emotional attachment. That being said, two of my church nursery babies are always dressed in their mother’s hand-me-down dresses that were saved from their childhood. Grandma was with the girls in the nursery a couple of weeks ago and told us stories about when she made many of these cute dresses. I gave all of my girl’s dresses away and now I wish I had saved a few of them for my granddaughters (from my lips to God’s ears).

  7. The below link goes to my end-all, be-all favorite school of thought on sentimental stuff/getting rid of.


    Hope the pack up goes well and the new place is wonderful. One of the coolest aspects (to me) about the whole campus life thing is finding out how many people have also called an apartment that you lived in, home. I kind of like the feeling of having shared a home with so many others.

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