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Letting go of the sentimental

I came across a thought on organizing that really touched a nerve for me. It stated that the longer you own something, the more cherished it becomes, regardless of whether you ever truly valued it in the first place. Have you ever had an item that you were hanging on to well past its true use? I’m pretty good at getting rid of baskets, vases, etc. but when it came to a certain roll top desk, I couldn’t imagine it NOT in my home.

When we were first married and poor as church mice, we bought some pine furniture in kits (pre-IKEA). One of them was a roll top desk. We built it with our own two hands and stained it and protected it with polyurethane. It was the information hub of our home. We even included this in our first will, to be handed down to our children. As our family grew, we needed a desk with more drawers and larger work space, so we bought another desk kit and the good old roll top got moved to another room - for four years. The years went by and we moved five times. You know they say “Three moves is as good as a fire”, so in those five moves, we got rid of a lot of superfluous stuff, but not our beloved roll top desk. We could never part with that.

Last year I came to realize that the real estate that desk was taking in our basement was badly needed for bookshelves. (COVID has a way of introducing new needs!) But how could I possibly part with our sweet little roll top - the desk from our newlywed days? I felt a little nauseous at the thought of it! Then I thought, “Where was this desk in our house before this last move?” Oh yeah, in the attic - for nine years. And before that? In the basement next to another piece of unused furniture. Before that it was in our daughter’s room not being used. Before that it was in a storage area in the basement of the apartment we lived in for two years. When I realized that the last time we actually used the desk was 1994 (mind blown!) I suddenly got a lot less sentimental. I put it on facebook marketplace and priced it to sell. Last Friday we said goodbye to our desk. It went to a nice family that was looking for just this sort of desk. I said a prayer of thanksgiving for its usefulness to us in the past and asked that it would be even more useful for its new owners and I let it go.

In all our moves, we always had some place to put the desk, so we kept it, even though we weren’t using it. It was a sentimental piece, but it was taking up precious real estate in our home.

I began this blog by saying that the longer you own something, the more cherished it becomes, regardless of whether you ever truly valued it in the first place. We did cherish that desk for the first several years of our marriage. But then it became a sentimental albatross around our necks (Not to mention really heavy to move!) Are you holding on to things because you might need it in the next move? Is it part of your history that you can’t imagine NOT having? Are you keeping it to give to your kids one day? I feel you, friend. There is freedom in letting go. Let your unused things be a blessing to another family. Cut those ties and fly with abandon into a life of simplicity. Reach out to me if you want to unpack your situation a bit more. You can do this!

Laura ~ your organizing girlfriend

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Nov 03, 2021

Laura, thank you for this post. It is so very helpful! I am guilty of this as well. Another thing that I found is that I hang onto things that I got from my mom or Armand’s mom, and I don’t use them. An example is a butter churn crock used by my mom when she was a young girl. When I asked one of my siblings if they wanted it, their reply was, “mom didn’t want it, why should any of us want it?” So, that thought, and thinking of the burden something might be on our children, is helpful when trying to decide whether or not we should keep some thing. Thanks again for these posts!

Nov 03, 2021
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I really understand how hard it is to let go of things from parents/grandparents, especially when the history is so cool (butter churn!). If you passed something down to your adorable little grandchildren, would you want them to keep it, even if it was difficult for them to do so? Of course not! Your mom wouldn't want you to feel saddled with that churn, if you don't really want to keep it. You know the saying, "You can't take it with you." Your mom doesn't need you to hold on to her butter churn. What she gave you was your faith. That you can take with you. It's the only thing really worth passing down. Contact a theatre group o…

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