1. Harriet Schecter has much good advice about managing memorabilia, including this:
The key to maintaining any memorabilia management system is to establish an annual or twice-a-year "Reminiscence Ritual." This is when you spend at least one afternoon (or whatever part of the day you prefer) to lovingly revisit your sentimental stuff, either alone or with family. Holidays can be a good time to do this, and/or summertime. The purpose of the Reminiscence Ritual is to allow you to reminisce as you weed out stale mementoes - a great way to make room for next year's memories.
2. Julie Morgenstern has this perspective regarding mementos:
True memorabilia encapsulates your most significant moments, transporting you in time with a mere touch or glance. If you can no longer remember why you're saving all those old birthday cards, get rid of them. Save one pair of embroidered bell-bottoms for nostalgia's sake, but not eleven.
3. Dr. Amie Ragan has some sage advice on dealing with the sentimental, including this:
I believe that you should keep sentimental items that help keep you feeling connected with people who are not here anymore. What to do with the things really depends on what they are. If they are items that can be used, then use them for their intended purpose. If your grandmother was practical like mine she would say, “Use the quilt, that’s what it is for.”
One idea that may help you decide if you can part with something is to think about how attached your grandparent was to the item. If it was just an everyday something-something, you might have an easier time letting it go. I would recommend keeping anything that you know the story behind, but you do not have to keep everything in order to keep their memories alive.
4. Michele has been posting some nice clutter-clearing articles over on Michele's Mix, and the latest deals in part with sentimental items. Here are two snippets.
The fact that something once belonged to a family member (presently living or deceased) does not mean it meets the criteria [for keeping things]. If you don't use it, love it or find comfort in it, consider passing it along to a family member who does. If no family members want it and you feel comfortable doing so, you may even want to try giving it to someone else who will love and use it. I feel that it is a much greater honor to the person and their heirloom to make sure whoever has it loves it.
During my freshman year of college, I competed in powerlifting (weightlifting). In one small meet I entered, I took fifth place (out of 7 women in my weight class) in the bench press and got a trophy for it. I lugged that trophy through many moves before I finally decided I didn't want it anymore.
Save Some of the Sentimental
Contribute to History, Honor Your Family, and Feel Good
[photo of blue jean bell bottoms for sale at Melbell's etsy store]