i wonder if packratting is a nature or nurture deal

I’m not so good at throwing things away. I’ve known this amount myself for some time now. And I am reminded each time I do some house cleaning.

A year or so ago, I decided I was going to put emotion aside and really hit my bedroom. Anything I didn’t use regularly was going to be turfed out. No exceptions. No reprieves.

No chance.

Despite my best intentions, and determined attitude, I may have tossed 15% of what I found. And most of that was just things I had kept from exes over the years.

Boxes were opened, and memories flooded out.

I have Valentines from grandparents who passed away in the 80s.

Handwriting that had been covered with dust someplace in the back of my mind was right there.

I have little craft projects from my niece that I would go back into a burning building for.

I have trinkets. As I sorted through them, each yelled its story.

Things are memories.

Loved ones touched these items. They picked them out. The held them. They gave them to you.

Sometimes I feel like a curator for family history.

Even if these particular stories are only really interesting to me.

Maybe especially then.

These memories form the core of who I am. They long ago began the process of influencing how I feel and think and act.

And maybe that’s a lot of weight to put on a Donald Duck valentine.

But if it reminds you of a woman who would sneak veggie juice into your pancakes when you were a kid, because she didn’t think you were eating well. A woman, taken too soon, who spent every waking hour trying to make sure you grew up healthy and happy and safe…

Maybe it’s just the right amount of weight.

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5 Responses

  1. Melissa says:

    I feel like this type of thing is a nature kind of deal. I’m not a pack-rat AT all (I give away clothes, belongings and things I don’t use every 2 months) but when it comes to memories… I have a LOT of trouble throwing that stuff out. I have boxes upon boxes of memories. It took all my energy to throw out all my old movie stubs just a couple years ago. I barely remember who I went with, but still.

    I don’t know, maybe it is a nurture thing. But so many of the people I know are exactly this way. we love to hold on to the things that remind us of how loved we are!

  2. Cali says:

    I’m saying nurture. I used to be that way and then one day, long ago, I threw everything out and haven’t missed it at all. In fact, it feels amazing to get rid of things, to me. My memories go into my blogs I guess – so I guess I do have a way of holding on to them, it’s just not through stuff.

  3. I think packratting is a little nurture and a little nature. I am not a packrat at all. I love purging my things – the discovery of space far outweighs holding onto things that no longer fit my current life. My husband’s mother kept EVERYTHING from his childhood. We chatted with her about it and realized it’s because she came from so little … the idea of being able to provide THINGS to my husband was a big deal, so she kept all of them. My husband claims he’s not a packrat (and rolls his eyes each time his parents bring us something else from his younger years), but it’s a lot harder for him to get rid of certain things than it is for me. I say his nature is to purge, but he’s been nurtured into holding onto certain things.

  4. Kez says:

    I swing wildly between OTT sentimentality and hardcore ditching of old stuff. I guess ultimately I believe that it’s not THINGS that matter, it’s the memories of them. I considered doing a project where I could take photos of each THING (and write a bit about it) and make a book about my memories instead. Have never found the time, but it would be a way to keep the memories alive in a less cluttered fashion?

  5. Emma says:

    I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture… I recall my parents encouraging me to purge my belongings more often than I wanted. I do love a good purge of clothes, but I break down when I consider giving away my childhood toys (most of them handmade by relatives who have passed away) and old birthday cards with those relatives’ distinctive handwriting. I feel like I hoard those mementos – sometimes as seemingly unimportant as an old bus transfer – but not so much other possessions. If that makes sense.

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