Thoughtful Thursday: Obsolete Entries

December 23, 2011

Thoughtful ThursdayThis year as I’ve sent out our holiday cards, I’ve taken a different tactic than usual for updating the list.

In the past, with these types of lists, address books, or birthday calendars, I would delete people who had become obsolete — either because they’d moved out of our lives, or because they died.

This year, I instead hid those lines on the spreadsheet. I did this for a couple of reasons: first, there are a couple of people whom DH has had me remove from the list at some point only to request that they be added in a subsequent year; hiding allows me to restore their address rather than having to contact them. Second, it’s hard to know what to do with people who have died. I remember reading a blog post from Mel several years saying that when people die, she leaves them in her address book untouched. At that point in life, her approach was very different from mine: I made a dramatic point of deleting them, a symbolic goodbye. But, I don’t think deleting works for me anymore, nor do I want to look at a potentially painful entry without warning. Hence, hiding the row.

Past deletion has come back to bite me: for example, a relative died last year, and I deleted his birthday from my list. Now, I couldn’t tell you his exact birthday. I know the month, but not the date. And so, when his daughter was suddenly sad on that day, I had no idea why, and I didn’t treat her as gently as I would have until someone else filled me in. Even if the deceased person can’t celebrate anymore, others might want to honor them — or mourn them — on that day, and it’s handy to have some kind of reminder.

There are some entries that I won’t forget, whether or not they appear on a list. I will never forget my mother’s birthday, for example, nor her address, nor the fact that she used to be at the top of my list and she isn’t there any more.

What do you do with obsolete entries in your address book, birthday calendar, etc.?

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11 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Obsolete Entries”

  1. Elana Kahn Says:

    I generally delete obsolete entries. I have ways of looking up info other than my address book, so if someone needs to be readded then I can do that easily. Even for people who have died (my dad, grandma, great-aunts & uncles, etc.) I just say goodbye and hit delete. It’s sad, but for me it needs to be done.

  2. Sara Says:

    My address book is very eclectic; things get added to it when I need them. Since I don’t do any systematic mailings like Christmas cards, I don’t ever have a reason to go in and purge. I’ve been lucky; I don’t think anyone on the list has died.

    As for birthdays, I remember my own, my parents’, and my sister’s easily; next tier is my husband’s (for years I used to have to count it out, by now I think I have it memorized), and my nieces and nephews (though for two of them I often have to go back to journal entries around when they were born to make sure I’ve got the right date). I just recently added a new birthday to the list of ones to remember, but it’s unforgetable: my daughter was born 11/11/11.

    Everyone else’s birthdays? Unless my mom reminds me of them, or it’s on FB, it’s completely off my radar.

  3. a Says:

    I tend to leave things in, but I’ve been lucky enough to not have anyone die from my address book until this month.

  4. Ana Says:

    I, too, have been lucky not to have to remove anyone due to death. But people with whom I’ve completely lost the relationship (former co-workers I had to call for work-related-purposes only, for example) I just delete. I keep everyone in my email address book.

  5. St. Elsewhere Says:

    Just like you, I will not forget the birthdays or anniversaries of certain people irrespective of their presence or absence in my life.

    I will not cull the list for obsolete names/addresses or for people who have grown distant for some reason, because who knows, I might need the contact details at some later point of time.

    However, I am merciless with the e-mail addresses. I regularly go through my contacts list because otherwise I sometimes get confused between two addresses of the same person, and I usually end up sending the same mail to two different addresses. I also kill those addresses on my list where I regularly get mail delivery failure responses. Also, the advantage of retaining the latest email id over ‘all the other’ email ids of a person is clarity.

    BTW, I am not as particular as you in sending out any holiday cards or wishing people otherwise….

  6. strongblonde Says:

    If I could work excel I would totally hide them 🙂

    I’m totally old fashioned when it comes to this. I scribble our list on a paper, scratch people off as we go through and write the cards. I create the list by looking at my contact list in my phone and B’s phone and then any other random people that we want to send our NY card to.

    For someone who is usually totally organized, makin’ lists and stuff, this seems ancient!

    But…to answer your question: I still keep all of the info. I started doing this b/c I couldn’t remember my grandparents’ birthdays. And that made me sad. I like to have a place where I can find the info if I need it.

    ….but now I also want to take an excel class!!


  7. People I haven’t been in contact with in years are still in my address book, even though I’m not sure their details are still correct. But I have different groups, so they will not be in my holiday cards or birth announcements groups…

    I do delete deceased people from my address book – too afraid I will make a mistake once and send something to that person and upset someone with that. If I want to remember his/her birthday and there are still living relatives, who are also in my address book, I will make a note in their entry.

    I did delete all my mom’s details pretty quickly after she passed away, from everywhere I had here and changed the entry in my phone for my parents’ home number to just my dad’s name. I just couldn’t bear to see her name when I knew I could no longer reach that way.


  8. Some old boyfriends and ex-friends are deleted. Some old boyfriends are not — it all depends on how we ended and if we remained friends.

    Grandma Marshmallow is still in. May always be.

    And I don’t send out holiday cards. #lazy

  9. BB Says:

    I keep them forever, mostly. What if someday I have to contact them? Honestly, I have never had to contact some one like that so far. But, I just don’t like to get rid of the good memories associated with it. Some of my friends, whom I have lost touch with and I know have changed phone numbers, I still have their old number stored – again for old times sake!

  10. Tara (TIMO) Says:

    I keep a hand-written address book. I try to update the entries when we receive them. When we do our holiday cards I put the current date in the corner so that I know that each entry has the most up-to-date address. We do verify all of our Air Force friends as we’re writing our cards because some of them move and don’t always send address changes. Old info is removed immediately to eliminate any confusion.

    I try to keep my email address book up-to-date as well. It’s just easier to have one address for each person then trying to remember which one is the one they’re using and checking now.


  11. The nice thing about being bad about remembering birthdays is this never comes up. People usu. just say to me, “I’m sad b/c today is my [dearly departed loved one’s] birthday.” I’m also lucky in that none of my phone contacts have died since I got my first stateside telephone. Just my dear program head and strangely enough, his number wasn’t in my contact list.


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