It’s sentiment, not clutter

Thankfully I’ll likely be dead when my kids face the chore of cleaning out my house.

From AARP to Pinterest, sites with tips on getting rid of possessions in our golden years are plentiful. Although safety and downsizing are excellent reasons to eliminate belongings, so our children won’t have to do it is a huge incentive.

Long before I became a senior citizen I wrote in a humor column that I knew and appreciated the difference between clutter and sentiment. I still maintain that I am not a hoarder. You could walk into my house any time unannounced and find no pathways, off-limits rooms or stacks of reading material on the floor. Nor would you take a picture for a magazine cover. Kind friends call it homey. I concede to being more sentimental about stuff than most people.

When my teenage grandson was visiting last week, he asked how I remember who gave me what. My heart knows, I told him. When I’m gone, others will know from the discreet notes all over the place. Plus names on things, I continued, showing him the undersides of a crucifix and snowman mug he and his sister gave me years ago.

Blog clutter aug 2016 cross and mug

Notes in my china cabinet explain that the stemmed glassware was a wedding gift to my parents 70 years ago and the pig pitcher came from my great-grandmother’s house in South Philly.

Blog clutter aug 2016 wine glasses

This treasured bowl is stored with the card that came with it.

Blog clutter aug 2016 bowl

My father’s card to me on my first Christmas says “I love you, Punkin” in his handwriting. It’s in my living room.

Blog clutter aug 2016 Christmas card from dad

My boyfriend of more than three years jokes (perhaps not) that one reason we don’t marry or live together is because he doesn’t want my Chambersburg stuff in his house. Actually, he uses another “s” word. He is referring to my hometown Cat’s Meow collection in my kitchen that includes the old train station that later served as the newspaper office where I worked and a landmark ice cream stand …

Blog clutter aug 2016 cats meow

… and lots of other mementoes:

Blog clutter Aug 2016 cburg mug

Blog clutter aug 2016 cburg rotary

Blog clutter aug 2016 cburg fountain

I have earnestly tried to declutter. When I retired four years ago I used my new free time to do a serious purge. Or so I thought until my daughter-in-law shared “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui,” a book by Karen Kingston, when I was visiting them in California. It made me want to rush home and toss more. Using the recommended trash, repairs, recycle and transit boxes I made decent progress … until I got to sentimental items. Kingston preaches to “keep the best and fling the rest” and don’t get hung up because things were gifts or you might need them someday. Let them go, with love, she says. Ouch!

Even more ruthless, in my opinion, is the much-hyped book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. She advises sorting everything you own into categories, then holding each item to your chest and asking yourself if it sparks joy. If not, dispose.

I embraced Kondo’s system of rolling clothes and using shoeboxes in drawers for visibility and neatness—very cool storage tricks.

Blog clutter aug 2016 drawers

But I balked at throwing away treasure boxes like these:

Blog clutter aug 2016 letters

There’s more. Like the box of all of my newspaper clippings. And the cedar chest packed with scrapbooks, high school memorabilia and other keepsakes. Though seldom, I do look at these things, cherishing most of the memories. I’m not ready to part with them yet. Maybe by the time my children have to go through my possessions there will be fewer of them.

Those who knew her agree that I have become my mother in many ways, particularly her sentiment. Now that she is gone I also hold onto some of her keepsakes, most in a plastic bin but others on display with mine. These plastic Glick’s Shoes promotions from the 1950s—joy sparkers, for sure—sat on Mom’s dressing table. (My note is showing in the blue one!)

Blog clutter aug 2016 Glick shoes

Like my mother, I have shelves of photo albums. Several months after she died my brothers and I gathered around a large table and looked at every page of every single one of them together. We had fun reminiscing. Some of us took whole books but for the most part we each pulled out individual pictures we wanted and slid what was left of the desecrated albums into a large trash can at one end of the table.

If I could do that, I fear my kids will have no remorse trashing my photos without even opening the albums. Please look. Read my notes, too.



About Lorrie DeFrank

Retired and relishing the time to write about anything concerning people 65 and older, which is everything.
This entry was posted in 65 plus, humor and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to It’s sentiment, not clutter

  1. Janis says:

    Very enjoyable reading. You are such a talented writer as well as a very special person. Looking forward to your next story.

  2. kingofob says:

    I’ll look…and read your notes. But, most of that Chambersburg shit is as good as gone. Who hangs a Rotary Club banner on their wall?! I mean, really? They probably don’t even have that on the wall at the actual Rotary Club.

  3. karen okie says:

    Loved this one too, Lorrie! I always enjoy visiting your wonderful, cheerful home but didn’t realize you have everything labeled!!! Confession: When I downsized to a condo more than 2 years ago, I finally parted with all of my magazine article manuscripts that had been REJECTED by publishers in the 70s and 80s. Rock on, Lorrie.

  4. Harry Schnabel says:

    Lorrie, your house represents you; warm and loving filled with wonderful memories. It is my pleasure to enjoy it with you.
    Well written. Love the pictures.

  5. says:

    Hi Lorrie: What a nice sentimental journey – I do believe that each of us have kept gifts, cards, etc. that our children will dispose of after we have departed this earth but while I am here I am going to enjoy them. Glad you are doing the same. Thanks!! My love, Nancy

    Lorrie DeFrank posted: “Thankfully I’ll likely be dead when my kids face the chore of cleaning out my house. From AARP to Pinterest, sites with tips on getting rid of possessions in our golden years are plentiful. Although safety and downsizing are excellent reasons to eliminat”

  6. Joan Cullen says:

    What a nice read this was; it was so YOU!
    Well, I believe I told you my family’s philosophy awhile back, which is: “When in doubt, throw it out.” Since I don’t have children, I guess this process is a bit easier for me. I am the anti-clutter queen. I am one of the only people I know whose guest room offers an empty dresser and closet.
    My mother would save the most sentimental of the sentimental stuff as years went by. The real nuggets survived the purges, and I now have those nuggets. I weed them out every year or so. My clean-out-clutter attitude has helped convince Frank to de-clutter the crawl space under the house and the attic. It is, indeed, a safety as well as a future stress saver issue.


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