Christmas cards

When Is It Time to Throw Stuff Out?

I’ve been in a cleaning mood lately. It’s probably a combination of this early winter weather (cold enough to stay indoors) and my pent-up guilt about the many boxes of “stuff” in the attic that we brought to our new home three years ago.

Here’s what my attic looks like…..

photo

I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to decide what to throw away and what to keep, but it’s been much worse than I expected. And, I’ve realized that my age has something to do with that.

Here’s what I have to deal with:

• Dozens of boxes of pictures (printed before online storage) from my 25 years with Ray
• Another dozen cartons of photos from Ray’s previous life and mine, and more left to us by our parents
• Old Christmas cards, some containing notes and family photos
• Lots of cards and notes from Ray
• Letters and mementos from my college years and former jobs
• Several notes from old boyfriends
• Cards and notes from my friend Patty and a couple of other girlfriends
• Hundreds of CD’s and DVD’s (and books that I can’t fit on my bookshelves)
• Old bills, tax records and receipts
• Other miscellaneous weird stuff, including two files marked “stuff I like”!!

7

I decided to tackle one large box of paper files first. I was exhausted in less than two hours.

The old bills and tax records from the 80’s and 90’s were easy. Out they went.

The old receipts … wait… should I keep that receipt for the watch I bought in 1992? How about the one for that expensive St. John jacket? No, it would take hours to go through them. Toss them!

Cards, notes and letters from Ray? Of course they stay!

Old work and college stuff? Toss it all.

Old Christmas cards and photo cards? I haven’t finished with these yet.

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A poem from a college boyfriend I haven’t seen or talked to in 45 years? I read it one more time, smiled and tossed it out.

An apology letter from my first husband for being such a jerk? I read it, grimaced and tossed it.

Then I found something that was harder to deal with.

It was a copy of a letter I had written to my mother when I was 29, trying to explain to her why I got divorced and how I was now “in love” with an older man. I have had that letter for 35 years and although it is well-written (if I have to say so myself), it is definitely not an example of my proudest moment. At 29, what did I know? A sad story, finger pointing and hurt feelings. Although I couldn’t really re-capture those feelings, the letter did remind me about the ups and downs of my relationship with my mom over the years.

But, now what? Keep it? Throw it away?

I’m 64. If I keep it … will I look at it again when I’m 74, 84, 94? If so, why? Should the one point in time reflected in this letter stick around as long as I do?

If I had kids, would I keep the letter for them? Would it help them figure out who I was at 29? Would I want them to? And, would they really care?

If I throw it away … am I letting go of an important memory about who I was? Or am I doing the right thing so that someone else doesn’t have to go through these kind of things when I’m gone?

I obviously kept stuff like this letter all these years in order to revisit my earlier life at some point in my later life.

But now I am in my later life.

Ultimately, I decided that I didn’t need to keep the letter to my mom. But I know there will be more of these decisions as I continue to tackle those boxes in my attic.

When is it too soon to throw things from the past away? I really don’t know, but I’m moving on to photos next week.

I’m already exhausted.

Cathy

p.s. Patty … I kept some great notes from you, girlfriend!

Christmas Cards … Are They Optional?

Last January I wrote this blog about Christmas cards. I was reminded of it last week when I was re-reading the cards we received.  Ray and I sent at least as many cards this year as last year, and received about the same number from friends, family and co-workers. I enjoyed every one of them – especially those with notes —  and I am even becoming pretty fond of the family photo cards. We did NOT receive many electronic cards this year, so maybe that’s not a growing trend? Hmm….

Before the 2012 holiday season is too far behind us, I wanted to blog about sending holiday cards – addressed, stamped and mailed by the United States Post Office.

A few weeks before Christmas, Patty asked me if I planned to send cards this year. I was surprised by her question since I have never really considered NOT sending cards. Yes, I complain about it every year when the time comes to write notes, stick stamps and return address labels on envelopes, and haul them to a mailbox. But holiday greetings have always seemed like an important part of Christmas to me.

Patty said that over the past few years, she has been sending many more cards than she has been receiving and that younger people are ditching the tradition altogether.  So, I paid attention this year.

My husband and I sent about 200 cards. Fifty were sent to employees, the rest to friends and family.

MC910215612

We received about 100 cards, which means that a fairly large number of our greetings were not returned. Hmm…  There were a few “e-cards” … not many, but more than last year… and I did notice fewer cards from younger people (the ones who sent cards sent the family photo kind, primarily).

I went online to search for statistics and found a recent blog called Sending Christmas Cards: A Dying Tradition.

Here is an excerpt:

Research shows that the pre-baby boomer generations felt so strongly about sending Christmas cards during the holiday season that the average family sent around 300 cards ………..But in recent years, numbers for greeting cards have dwindled. Large companies like Hallmark Greeting Card Company report a 33.7% decrease since 2007 in the numbers of Christmas cards purchased each year. And in a recent survey at Parenting Magazine, only 22% of all households said that they would be sending out traditional Christmas cards………Last year, the American Greeting Card Association compiled numbers that show that Americans on average only sent 8 cards per household……………

I haven’t been able to verify these stats … but it does seem as if Christmas cards might be going the way of letter writing.  I find it sad …it was a tradition I grew up with and still enjoy.

How about you?

Christmas Cards … Are They Optional?

Before the 2012 holiday season is too far behind us, I wanted to blog about sending holiday cards – addressed, stamped and mailed by the United States Post Office.

A few weeks before Christmas, Patty asked me if I planned to send cards this year. I was surprised by her question since I have never really considered NOT sending cards. Yes, I complain about it every year when the time comes to write notes, stick stamps and return address labels on envelopes, and haul them to a mailbox. But holiday greetings have always seemed like an important part of Christmas to me.

Patty said that over the past few years, she has been sending many more cards than she has been receiving and that younger people are ditching the tradition altogether.  So, I paid attention this year.

My husband and I sent about 200 cards. Fifty were sent to employees, the rest to friends and family.

MC910215612

We received about 100 cards, which means that a fairly large number of our greetings were not returned. Hmm…  There were a few “e-cards” … not many, but more than last year… and I did notice fewer cards from younger people (the ones who sent cards sent the family photo kind, primarily).

I went online to search for statistics and found a recent blog called Sending Christmas Cards: A Dying Tradition.

Here is an excerpt:

Research shows that the pre-baby boomer generations felt so strongly about sending Christmas cards during the holiday season that the average family sent around 300 cards ………..But in recent years, numbers for greeting cards have dwindled. Large companies like Hallmark Greeting Card Company report a 33.7% decrease since 2007 in the numbers of Christmas cards purchased each year. And in a recent survey at Parenting Magazine, only 22% of all households said that they would be sending out traditional Christmas cards………Last year, the American Greeting Card Association compiled numbers that show that Americans on average only sent 8 cards per household……………

I haven’t been able to verify these stats … but it does seem as if Christmas cards might be going the way of letter writing.  I find it sad …it was a tradition I grew up with and still enjoy.

How about you?

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