Thoughtful Thursday: Attic

July 15, 2010

Thoughtful ThursdayMel had a lovely post this week about clearing out her childhood belongings from her parents’ home due to their upcoming move. She found that the objects turned out to be less important than she’d expected.

I have a similar situation — well, sort of, not really. Basically, all of the contents of my mother’s home will soon be emptied out — I didn’t grow up there, but all of my childhood stuff is there. If there’s anything I particularly want, I can put in a request and maybe someone will come across it. Otherwise, it all goes away. The house is across the country, so I will not be a part of the purge.

It’s rather a different scenario than one that faced the same house a few years ago when there was a natural disaster evacuation. In that case, my mother had only a few minutes to take what she needed. Here, there is not the urgency nor the need to gather necessities for survival. Here, there is plenty of time for sentimentality.

The only thing I’ve requested is my baby book. I have no idea if I’ll actually get it; it is in there somewhere but I don’t know where. No one has seen it since the mid-90s. The photos on the walls will also be kept, though not necessarily by me.

The rest of it? I wash my hands of it. Anything I really wanted I took long ago. Anything else I might want probably couldn’t be found anyway. But, even if it could, I don’t think I’d want it.

Any visions I once had of my children playing with my old toys have vanished thanks to the apparently high lead content of everything from the past.

Books I read 20 or 30 years ago? I’ve been fine without them so far. The price of buying a new one if I need something again far outweighs the cost of shipping and the lung damage from the dust I’d be inhaling.

My stamp collection? My husband assures me that our children won’t be nearly as nerdy as I was.

Old clothes? Nothing would fit me. What if my daughter someday wants to wear my clothes from the 80s, or her grandmother’s clothes from the 60s or 70s? I would rather take her vintage shopping when the time comes than keep all sorts of musty outfits around just in case she might want them someday for some Halloween costume or dress-up day.

There is some really magnificent furniture that I always thought I’d end up with, but it is across the country and my house has plenty of furniture already.

As a sometimes pack rat descended from certifiable, pathological pack rats, my decision rather shocked me. Or perhaps it shouldn’t — as an adult, my tendency to keep is often at odds with my need for order. Thankfully, order usually wins.

Goodbye, 7 of 9 Cabbage Patch Kids (the important two are in my current house). Goodbye, Smurf collector glasses. Goodbye, vast collection of 2nd and 3rd place trophies from a sport I was obviously not that good at (okay, there’s one 1st place in there). Goodbye, far too many outfits with sequins or shoulder pads. Goodbye, out of date encyclopedias. Goodbye, tables under which I used to crawl and write secret messages. Goodbye, stuff that seemed important at the time but really never was.

If you had to clear out your childhood home, what would you keep?

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11 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Attic”

  1. Kristin Says:

    I’d keep my doll collection that my dad brought me back for all his TDY missions while he was in the Air Force.

  2. emk808 Says:

    I would keep my Barbies, the old videotapes and the piano (with sheet music). Other than that, I’m not really attached to much. I haven’t lived there in so long that I’ve basically forgotten everything that’s there. 🙂

  3. Rebecca Says:

    I dunno. My mother is going to move out of the home I lived in from 14-20, and I dread to think how much crap there is in her attic. There’s tons of stuff of my dad’s, too, including all his old football programmes.

  4. Ana Says:

    My parents already gave away all my books, toys, and records (!) to my younger cousin without consulting me 🙂 We have always purged and gave away clothes right away.
    They still live in the same house I mostly grew up in (since 7). But my cousin lived with us for a while (in my room), so it had already been cleaned out of most stuff.
    I have one big rubbermaid box of “momentos” I collected from high school and college. I bet a lot of it is junk—flowers from old boyfriends, letters from friends/boyfriends…but I’d take it and go through it.
    I already have my stuffed animals and my own picture albums but I’d want the many albums from my baby-hood—(yes, I was the first child!) Ummm, seriously that’s about it!

  5. a Says:

    Been there, done that. I have about 3-4 boxes of nostalgia, and all the 8mm movies from my childhood. Every year, I go through the boxes and get rid of a couple more things that no longer seem important. I have toys, some clothes, some gifts that I bought for other people (did you know that you can sometimes get those gifts back when people die? I didn’t), high school papers. Boxes of random memories, I guess.

  6. strongblonde Says:

    very timely post. we have a dumpster at our house right now. as i type this. wednesday i cleaned out my childhood crap from the basement. i come from a family that doesn’t keep anything. they “accidentally” threw away my new license that came in the mail while i was at college. they couldn’t be bothered to keep a small piece of mail for a few weeks….let alone any of my “stuff” from childhood. the second i had a place of my own (even my first small 500 square foot apartment), my parents were throwing all of my stuff at me. every time they came to visit they would bring boxes of stuff. every.single.time. i was able to purge stuff along the way.

    except for a large steamer trunk in the basement. i went through all of that stuff on wednesday. i threw a lot away. in the end i just kept a small box of stuff: old report cards, my (mostly empty) baby book, a few of my papers/art from school, some photos that were in there. but most of it? it’s in the dumpster. my mom had put all of the cards from every birthday up to age 18 in there. unless there was some sort of personal message–they were thrown away. i think i ended up keeping ONE. who needs a million cards from great aunts? i don’t think my kids would like to look at them. they won’t know the people and it’s not fun to read hallmark cards from 30 years ago anyway.

    that’s pretty much the standard i used for sorting: what do i think my kids MIGHT want to look at one day? probably not my notes from my humanities class. MAYBE the scrapbook i created in 7th grade. probably not the million birthday/valentine/christmas/halloween cards from various relatives, MAYBE the letter from their aunt to me while i was at music camp….you get the picture.

    it took half a day, but i was able to fill two large garbage cans full of stuff that are now in a huge dumpster in my driveway. i only regretted a few things the day after…and not enough to dig through that dumpster to try to find them again. mostly i’m glad to have more space and less clutter. let’s hear it for order 🙂

    now b’s stuff?? that’s another story. his parents kept EVERYTHING (like 4 boxes of stuffed rabbits, 1 box of elephants….and don’t get me started on the starwars stuff…) and now most of that is at our house. he’s getting better about purging, but i definitely win in that category 😉

    holy long response. i guess i am pretty excited about my dumpster, lol.

  7. heather Says:

    ironically i want nothing that was actually mine. i have one old side table already and there is an old chair that i want and a set of four canisters (old ones that were used for four sugar etc). and thats it!

  8. WiseGuy Says:

    I would like to keep my diaries, a wall photo of Krishna that once adorned my maternal grandparents’ home and all the photographs that my family ‘inherited’ or built up. In the first thought, yep, that is what I would keep for sure.

    Possibly I would also retain the copy of Geetanjali on which my Nana has underlined/written comments on his favourite poems.

  9. Cat Says:

    I’ve actually already done this on several occasions. When I moved out, when I moved out again, and when we cleared all our stuff out after the mediation. And then again just a few days ago when we got some rain water in the basement right where the only cardboard boxes are (everything else is in plastic bins). Each time I get rid of more and more. I know I kept all that stuff for sentimental reasons, but if I can no longer remember the sentiment, it gets tossed. Sometimes I’ll take a picture of an item that has a story behind it but then get rid of the item itself if I don’t know what to do with it besides store it in a box. I used to keep everything, but now I can’t stand clutter.

    I always keep photos, though. Always.

    P.S. I found about 15 Smurf glasses in an antique store a couple years ago. After getting over the shock of finding something from my childhood in an antique store (I can’t possibly be THAT old), I bought every single one and shared them with my sisters.

  10. Mel Says:

    Oh my G-d, I kept so much from the purge. Old papers especially. Not just things I wrote–things I clipped out or that reminded me of an event, etc.

  11. loribeth Says:

    I spent several days last summer helping my parents clear out their basement crawl space (like you, not the house I grew up in, but they’ve been there 26 & all my old stuff is still there). There’s STILL stuff there, but we made a good dent in it, I think. We made trip after trip to the local paper recycling depot. I thought I had pared down my school stuff during a previous move, but apparently not. I tossed most of my school notebooks that I hadn’t previously tossed (dating back to kindergarten), but kept some of the projects and term papers. Tossed most of the birthday cards & Valentines, but kept one from the boy I had a grade-school crush on, and a few from my grandmother. Tossed most of my board games, my china tea set & several cartons of vintage comic books & Tiger Beat magazines (!!) but kept my Barbie dolls & clothes. There are still tons of books to go through, & I may keep some of my old favourites. My old diaries are in my old bedroom closet. I really need to retrieve those one of these days…


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