Monday, August 23, 2010

Memorabilia: Honoring That Which We Choose to Save

needlepoint flowers, framed

The question I ask myself when I come across a dusty box under the bed is, “If this is so important emotionally, why aren’t I taking better care of it?” Stuff that needs to be kept but has no emotional impact, like out of season coats and boots, can go under that dusty bed. Perhaps Grandma’s needlepoint deserves something better. -- Louise Hornor, in a comment on Unclutterer

I've been thinking about memorabilia lately - partly because I'm cleaning up my bookmarks on that subject, and partly because a dear friend just died - and her daughter is now dealing with the "all that stuff" issue, as well as her grief. (By the way, this is why I've been a bit light on blog posts lately.)

Today, I'm going to focus on the whole idea of honoring those items we choose to save. Many of my fellow organizers have addressed this subject, and I'd like to share their wisdom.

Here's what organizer Scott Roewer said on the subject:
My clients can keep whatever they want. ... However, I do expect them to know what they have, be able to find what they keep, and to honor the memories in their lives.

I tell them a memory isn’t a memory if it’s in a dark corner of the closet or in a box in the basement - it’s just stuff. So, we work on honoring those memories and not personifying the object. I’ll offer ideas, such as photographing the quilt grandma made in 1960. You know the one - it’s Harvest Gold, has holes from moths, and is so scratchy you’ll never use it. ... The visual of the blanket is what the client wants to hold on to, not the scratchy blanket.
And organizer Lorie Marrero writes:
If you must keep it, honor it and enjoy it. Don't just stash it away. Find a way to display it and make it a part of your life.
Here's one example of someone honoring precious items: heirloom recipes were framed and displayed. (As organizer Tanna Clark says, it's best to make copies of them before doing this.)

And organizer Aby Garvey shares a way that someone displayed her dad's old fishing lures and bobbers.

[Photo: Needlepoint done by photographer Anthony Catalano's grandmother, licensed under Creative Commons]


Marcie Lovett said...

So sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, Jeri. As organizers, we know that when someone you love dies, you might inherit things that you aren't going to use. It might be hard to get rid of things that have sentimental value, but no usefulness.

Instead of allowing things to become clutter, I also advocate taking a picture and letting the item go.

My beloved aunt died 15 years ago and I was given a set of souvenir teaspoons that had hung in her dining room because another relative thought I admired them. I didn't want the spoons, but I thought I had to hang onto them to honor my aunt.

They sat in a drawer, unused and unloved, until I finally realized that someone else would be much happier with them than I ever could be. That realization freed me from the burden of keeping them. I have great memories of my aunt; I don't need a physical reminder to keep her in my thoughts and my heart.

Jessica said...

The link to the heirloom recipe framing article is broken. I'd love to read it if you can find a better url for it :)

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of honoring the memorabilia within a piece of handcrafted art. Below is a link to see a variety of examples from Jan Sowder (who I highly recommend).
Lorese Harper
Neat Nest

Anonymous said...

Oops - forgot to post the link
Lorese Harper
Neat Nest

Struggler said...

I like the principle of keeping whatever you want, as long as you honor it.

Jeri Dansky said...

Jessica, the link is fixed now.

Cynthia Friedlob said...

I add my condolences on the loss of your friend, Jeri.

I'm rather fond of the quote from Scott Roewer: "I do expect them to know what they have, be able to find what they keep, and to honor the memories in their lives."

I would like to suggest that not everything of value needs to be displayed in order to be honored. A "treasure box" that is opened periodically so that the contents can be enjoyed can be a good choice for keeping some of the sentimental stuff, too.

Jeri Dansky said...

Marcie and Cynthia, thank you for the condolences.

Cynthia, I totally agree about treasure boxes. In fact, I'm planning a blog post on just this subject!

Marcie, I'm sorry to hear about your aunt. But how wise of you to realize you could give up those spoons!

Lorese, it seems Jan has done some nice work - but the website you provided has no way to get in touch with her, and the last entry on her blog was about a year ago.

Anonymous said...

Here is the contact information for Jan Sowder:
phone: 812-282-6903

Thanks for the information.
Lorese Harper
Neat Nest