After 15 years in our house, we are in the middle of doing some cosmetic upgrades. Part of that has been for me to go through everything I've saved over the past 50+ years and toss, donate or organize and continue to save. I've always had a significant amount of emotional attachment to "things." Like my first pair of jeans (8th grade graduation gift from my uncle Anthony Mante ) which I still have. The significance is that for a catholic school girl, jeans were not allowed. They represented a new freedom as I moved on to high school. They are still tucked away in my drawer. I have the first shirt I ever bought with my own money. It was an exorbitant $12 and I put it on layaway for 6 weeks while I saved my babysitting money. But it has glittery bears on it; how could I possibly get rid of it? I have all of my How to Draw books, printed in the 60's, that I received without fail every gift giving occasion from my mom and dad. middle school graduation dresses
Once I had my girls, the borderline hoarding got worse. I saved every scrap of paper, every stuffed toy, every cute little dress. Every item has been attached to my heart for 30+ years. As I go through boxes and bins and notebooks, I realize I can't hold on to it all.
Anna is a senior at Florida State. I don't need to keep a note from her 2nd grade teacher about her homework. Every single drawing was not a masterpiece although at the time I thought it was.
Ashley is about to become a mom herself and I don't need to hold on to her plastic cheerleading trophy from when she was 5. She asked me for her favorite stuffed animal -Blueberry- that was a gift when she was born, to give to her little one. Because I am who I am, it was in a basket in my bedroom. It's now in her baby's room.
Letting go of the "stuff" is letting go of their childhood. They both managed to do that a long time ago. I am forcing myself to.
Of all the things I have accumulated over the years, my most important collection is books. Ashley, and even more so Anna, were (are) avid readers. Books have been an important part of my life since the first time we took our little red wagon to the library and loaded up . One of my favorite birthday gifts ever was my very own hard copy of Little Women. Over the years, between the 4 of us, we have managed to collect in the neighborhood of 2,000 books. They take up a lot of space!
I am trying to narrow down the collection. I have started giving them away. Baby Trail has a collection started - all the Doctor Suess and golden books so far. Next shipment he gets the Sandra Boynton board books. I am sending a box to a friend of my niece's who is starting a reading center at the new school where she is beginning her teaching career. But so many are staying right here.
All of this traumatic nostalgia led me to thinking about my favorite books, the ones I want to always have a copy of in my possession. I found my original copy of A Cricket In Times Square, and after very careful thought, came up with my top ten out of the thousands I've read. In order:
To Kill A Mockingbird
A Wrinkle In Time
On The Night of the Seventh Moon
That Was Then, This is Now
A Cricket In Times Square
From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler
Pillars of the Earth
I decided on my favorites the same way I make every decision- with my heart not my head. That is something about me that will never change. I am doing better about letting go, but I don't think I'll ever be cured.