Guilt items. You know, those things you hang on to because you have to, not because you want to. The quilt Aunt Frankie made for you when you were 3. The small collection of statuettes that your brother’s wife has bought for you over the years. Hand me down linens that don’t match anything. Those things that sit in your closet, unused and unloved, year after year.
Getting rid of these things can be hard.
After my dad died in 1999, we kept a large number of things that we didn’t want, but we didn’t feel right getting rid of, either. Several years later, I was ready to let some of those things go, but have hung on to others. They sit in the closet next to the ugly Christmas gifts I hate but keep just in case I’m asked about them some day.
As we were going through things at my mom’s house, we gathered a sizeable collection of things my grandfather (who also passed away recently – on New Year’s Eve actually) made. He was a woodworker. These things, well, they go great with his house, which was remodeled in the 70s. They looked good at my childhood home, a 70s-era house decorated in the 80s. They looked OK in my mom’s house, which I really can’t define in terms of style other than to say that it’s completely opposite mine. The thing is, they won’t look good in my house.
And I really don’t want them in my home. I want to want them. But I don’t.
When my aunt drove down to pick up some furniture, we showed her this collection of things. She picked out one thing for herself, and two things for my other aunt. One item was already destined to go to a cousin. The rest, she didn’t want. And these were things made by her recently deceased father. And seeing her decide to keep just one meaningful item and then have no guilt about leaving the rest really helped me get over my fear of letting go of these things.
They’re just things. Keeping them out of guilt is not healthy. They may as well go to someone who will love them, who will use them, who will enjoy them and want to look at them every day.
So when we close up my mom’s house and turn the keys over to the bank, who will be taking care of the sale of the house for us as well as auctioning off what remains, a sizeable chunk of handmade woodwork will still be inside. And I’m ok with that now.
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