How much crap is too much?
This past weekend, we moved Kimhead an hour and a half from us. It was bittersweet, for sure. She's advancing in her career and is back close to family in the city she really enjoys. It just sucks to have her not right up the road to meet for dinner after a hard day at work. The move entailed a completely packed 24' rental truck, plus our cars packed too... not to mention the trips she had already made in her car in the prior weeks.
I'm not going to pick on her too much (but yes, Kimhead, just a little bit) because I have been guilty of hanging on to things for the wrong reasons before as well. And you know what? It's her crap - so if she wants to keep it crammed in her closets or under her kitchen sink, then who am I to fault her for it? I'm still hanging on to a shirt I bought in Venice when I was 20 because I can't bear the thought of parting with it. Not to mention those satin "rhinestone cowboy" pants from high school that are in a bin in my closet. All that being said, I am definitely grateful that along with getting married & combining households came the sensibility of realizing that just because my grandma gave me something I don't like, doesn't mean I have to keep it. Or that one doesn't need 5 sets of silverware. And if you haven't worn something or used something in over a year, that perhaps, you aren't EVER going to use it or wear it again!
Yet, while I pick on Kimhead about keeping 100 plastic forks and unopened packages of drink umbrellas in her pantry, I am the one with an attic full of boxes and knick-knacks at my Grandma's house. In fairness, I haven't been moving it all around the country with me each time I move though! And every time I watch "Hoarders" or help someone move or hear of someone redecorating their house, I get that pang in my stomach of the guilt and disgust of having so much crap. Yes, at my age, I have too much crap. It just so happens that some of it has been boxed up since my sophomore year of high school, more boxed since 2000, and yet, even more boxed in late 2004ish. Pretty sure if I haven't needed or wanted it yet - I'm not going to need 50 sets of salt & pepper shakers or a backpack from Planet Hollywood.
My dad had a great idea once upon a time - A Memory Box. However, his idea of a memory box exploded into the idea that keeping every single Barbie shoe or McDonalds Happy Meal toy was somehow going to be worth the storage space and the time to sort through it all later in life. I had a yard sale a few years back, and the only thing I mildly regret is that I think I sold some childhood books that would have been great to keep for my own future children. In reality, with the sets of grandparents that our kids are going to inherit, they're never going to want for anything in their entire lives, so gifting my future daughter with a hand-me-down Hungry, Hungry Hippos game probably isn't necessary.
So, what do I do with it? Well, I sell it. Or at least some of it. I had started Memory Boxes last Christmas when I was in The Fort and intend to work on some of that again this next trip home. What goes in a Memory Box? My grandmother's copy of "A Profile in Courage" and ticket stubs from concerts I went to as a child. Perhaps even that plastic Smurf cup I used as a child when I visited my grandma or my favorite bean-baby doll that I got for my first Christmas. What can be sold? Well... that collection of salt & pepper shakers I mentioned, for example, is a good starting point. And nautical knick-knacks accumulated through college. And there are definitely some books and some blankets and some games and some toys that can go too.
However... those "vintage" toys yield a bit of an issue. Do I try to sell them at a yard sale (which is tentatively happening in July 2011 - stay tuned for details!) or do I put them on http://www.etsy.com/ or try Ebay or Craigslist? There are certainly some people out there who would jump at that Bernstein Bears unopened Happy Meal toy or that mint condition Barbie or those Fisher Price Little People that were small enough to choke on. Any insight is welcome. I think a bit of research is needed to make an informed decision.
In the meantime, while I go through a mental list of what I can toss versus keep from my grandma's attic, I surely hope that Kimhead is planning my next meal for when I visit. I told her I want her to make sure she uses all that crap she wouldn't part with - tiny crock pots, a gigantic roasting pan and asparagus cooker, and yes, I expect a tiny drink umbrella in everything as well.