Declutter– I’ve procrastinated about sharing my thoughts on this subject. My reason is simple. It seems that perhaps I am not hip-with-the-times and am instead selfish and vain and want to keep things that are not necessities, i.e. not useful or joyful. Useful is understandable but joyful? Yes, according to some extremists, we should not possess any items that do not bring us JOY.
SO, I suppose that means that we definitely should not keep a pair of jeans for 25+ years that are taking valuable closet/attic space just because we can’t part with them. Now I must confess. . . I still own a well-worn and well-loved size 6 pair of Liz jeans AND a size 4 skimpy dress that I kept from my thinner, young years. Do they bring me JOY? Hmmm – joy is a personal choice and the meaning seems to be debatable these days. But I digress. These jeans remind me of when I was a younger and healthier version of myself and living a happy era of my life . . . you get the point. Do I truly believe that I will ever get more than a knee in those jeans? Not likely, barring catastrophic illness (which I pray never occurs – I’d rather be a bit overweight, thank you).
But here’s my “Boomer reality” – I wore those jeans during a time when I was able to exercise and eat ‘n drink basically anything that I wanted and just enjoy doing life with my kiddos. And oh, let’s talk about that little purple party dress I still have that I looked – and more importantly felt – so cute in and danced the night away at a high school reunion where I looked 10 years younger than my age . . . see what I mean? Those are memories that make me smile and yes, bring me JOY. So, I guess keeping “things” depends on your definition of “joy”. But are they useful? In a word, no. And neither are the many sizes of cast iron skillets that are in my cabinet – but two of them were wedding gifts and the others were my grandmother’s, and I am keeping them all whether I ever use them again – just because they are important to me.
Let’s get real. It’s not necessary to keep 10 pairs of jeans in varying sizes, but it is OK to keep a few. And nope, nobody needs 50 t-shirts in varying sizes, even if the memories bring a smile . . . solution to the t-shirt overload is have a blanket made from them to enjoy your memories and keep you warm and cozy at the same time. But that raises yet another question! Should we add yet another blanket to the ever-growing extra-blanket stash – and the gathering pillows and comforters and quilts and sheets – that you already did not donate when you changed décor as your tastes changed? Ehh, likely the answer is “no.”
So why is it, really, that we Boomers keep those things? Is it because we are borderline hoarders who refuse to get rid of unnecessary stuff? Maybe so, for some folks, but I’d like to think that’s not true for me. My dilemma is simple – out of sight, out of mind. Until I need the space, I don’t even think about what’s in the space. Ahh, it’s actually freeing to share that tidbit. So yeah, maybe I should work on that mindset . . . but alas, I don’t declutter willingly until my daughter forces my hand, reminding me unapologetically that the vast majority of my stuff will not be important to anyone else when I leave this world for my heavenly home. And no, that’s not disrespectful, just painfully honest. Believe me, after inheriting “stuff” from in-laws and my folks, I have quite the abundance of unnecessary stuff that we just can’t seem to bring ourselves to part with. And no, I truly don’t wish the same circumstance on her. Although, giving myself a little bit of credit, we have donated truckloads of stuff to thrift stores with noble community-service missions with the hope that someone out there can actually use stuff that we truly don’t need or want.
So, there you have it – my thoughts on today’s lifestyle declutter fad vs Boomer reality. The bottom line is that decluttering is a necessary evil if you don’t want your kids to be left with a houseful of your memories. I don’t think it really matters what size your house is . . . but as long as we’re still living, I think it’s definitely OK to keep more than enough stuff that makes you smile.