how and when to let go of sentimental treasures

by rebecca on October 27, 2012

Post image for how and when to let go of sentimental treasures

Second place can be better than first. A tiny ribbon can be preferable to a giant trophy. It takes time to know what is meaningful in our life stories.

There is a great deal of paraphernalia that comes with raising children. A multitude of worksheets come home from kindergarten, art pieces populate elementary school and trophies congregate in the closets of high schoolers.

I have adored every paper, fine print and trophy as if I were a museum curator. We have had congratulatory dinners, we’ve gone out for ice cream and called relatives to brag. Now it’s time to lighten our load.

My children do not need to be 30 years old, busy with children of their own and listening to me harp on them to help me clean out my closets. They are surprisingly aware of what is truly meaningful and what made wonderful memories but can be let go.

This is an important life skill.

Somewhere I (and maybe you?) got the message that if a thing has significance I must keep it.

My best friend did me a huge favor. She threw my favorite photo of us into the ocean.

We were 19 years old. We lived as free spirits in Maine, hopping on the ferryboat with her guitar in tow. Flirting with the boat’s captain as we came and went, we sang Joni Mitchell songs on beaches  and ate salads I’d packed in Tuperware containers. It was an incredible year.

So, when I prepared to leave and we were melancholy, we held the camera out in front of us and snapped away. It was a glorious photo. “Your copy’s in the mail,” she said. But it never arrived. And she’d tossed the original in the ocean because she wanted the two of us to always remain there together.

I am certain that photo cannot live up to my memory.

It has grown in mythology because I long for it so.

Letting something go doesn’t mean we don’t love it. It means we trust we loved it well enough.

I think my children are ready to part with their trophies because they felt celebrated. Having something to hold while you call your uncle to replay the game on the basketball court is a powerful thing.

If you allow yourself to feel the moment, it is enough.

The trophy did its job and we can all move on.

How will you know when to let go?

  1. Give yourself time. History has a way of absorbing the glow, and one day you will have sucked all the juice out of your treasured item. At that time, it will be easy to part with.
  2. Create a memory by letting go. On the other hand, burning it, or otherwise making a ceremony of letting go at the height of its glory might preserve the memory without needing to keep the item itself.

What are you holding on to because you think you’re supposed to keep it? Do you have a special memento from long ago that puts a smile on your face when you touch it? What would get better in your memory if it disappeared and could never come back?

My friend threw our photo off the edge of our ferry years before Titanic came out in theaters. I wondered, when I got my DVD copy why I watched this scene over and over. Today it finally makes a little sense. Sometimes there are moments of our lives almost captured but we can’t quite connect the dots. We just know we have love, curiosity or some other strong emotion. I call these moments altared spaces.

I am taking time to tend my home. It’s part of my 4-step philosophy in Soulful Cleansing. Identify – Notice – Address – Tend.  I’d love to have you  join today’s discussion by leaving a comment, join the team and stay in touch or join the class.

I am participating in 31-days of Soulful Cleansing. This project is the collaborative brainchild of The Nester. Join her here and see all the other 31-day projects.

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Shannon October 29, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I have quite a few sentimental things. I keep a memory box in the basement, one for myself, one for my husband, and one of baby things. But even then I’m still culling those things too. I guess I let go when I can look at an object and realize I’d forgotten it ever existed! I also consider my own experience of cleaning out my parents’ house after they died. They were hanging on to so much stuff that didn’t improve their lives at all, and meant nothing to my siblings and me.


rebecca October 31, 2012 at 12:00 am

Shannon, I’m sorry to hear about your parents. It was tough for me to close up my mother and step-father’s home. It was like packing away a house I would never again get to visit.

I’m sorry they left a lot for you to clean up. You are right, this is a tough thing to leave for your kids.


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: