His stuff, my stuff, our stuff

Published 10:06 am Monday, May 5, 2014

I read organizational, clutter-busting tips every chance I get, and they sound like great ideas. But when I get about the actual business of clutter-busting, it means a fight with two sentimentalists – Honey and me.

Such was the case the past couple of weeks when, in a quest to switch winter and summer clothes between closets, I also undertook to pare down the absolutely ridiculous amount of stuff we’re storing.

Take, for instance, a cardboard box in the hall closet. In it were two candy dishes, inexpensive odd china trinkets, and a matching set of goblets that match nothing we own. They’ve been in a box in our house all the years of our marriage, having belonged to Honey’s mother, whom I never met.

It was OK to get rid of two of the eight pieces, he said. Because everybody needs a box of things they haven’t used, ever, and probably never will.

We also needed to keep most of the contents of two Rubbermaid tubs of Honey’s winter clothes that were packed away and never disturbed this winter. Seriously. All of the tips say if you haven’t worn the clothes in a year, get rid of them. His answer? He forgot about them.

Let me be the first to admit I also have a fair collection of clothing I haven’t worn in more than a year. Logically, I know they should have made the trek to the church yard sale. But I am certain that the minute I get rid of them, I’ll be that size again.

I once issued a moratorium on T-shirts. There were so many in our house, that we had no place to store them. If you got a new one, you had to get rid of an old one. We could stand to adopt that practice, again, since we have packed away 15-year-old shirts from places we visited or festivals we attended.

In his view, we have stacks and stacks of cooking magazines that are valuable, and lots of my books that could go. My spin is that we can find all of those magazine recipes online and I need my books.

We could cut our cookbook collection by two thirds and still never try all the recipes we had on hand. And to be honest, I really don’t want to talk about my shoes.

But we did agree on some things we could clear out. So I loaded up lots of stuff and away it went.

With a little more time, and a lot more discipline, we easily could have doubled what we removed and never missed it. But we are sentimentalists born of people who lived through the Depression or its after-effects, and we cling to the notion that some day, we might need these things, or perhaps we’re just not good at letting go.

I googled this topic and felt better and worse. We are not alone, but having too much stuff costs us all – from the space to store it, to the time to organize it.

What are you doing with your stuff?