“All in the family” clutter, part 1

Every family has a certain quantity of stuff in the house that they did not purchase, win, or choose. It was given to them by other family members. We’re not talking about birthday gifts here, we’re talking inheritances. Not the trust fund; that’s not clutter!

In general, we own more stuff (and keep it in bigger homes) than our grandparents had. Likely they had more than their grandparents. There is more out there to buy. The expectations are higher. But consider the snowball effect, if the contents of our grandparents’ homes empty into our parents’ homes, and then all of that empties into our homes… eventually, we’re going to drown in stuff.

Yet this is some of the most difficult clutter to part with. It’s wonderful to have something that you admire, or use, or both, that is a fond memory of a person you cared for. More often, though, we see boxes of things that people don’t really want, but keep out of obligation or guilt.


What we hear is, “I don’t like this, but it was Aunt Mary’s.”

Does it honour a person to keep their possessions packed in a box in the basement?

Try three things:

1. Remember, a person is not her stuff. The knickknack is not Aunt Mary.

2. Turn your sentence around: “It was Aunt Mary’s, but I don’t like this.”

3. If your house is not the right place for that heirloom, find it a better place. Give it to someone who does want it, sell it if you have the time, or donate it to an organization that will do some good with it.

Take a picture of it if you need to, then keep the memory and let the stuff go.

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