Dealing with Sentimental Clutter

One of the hardest types of clutter to part with – at least for me – is sentimental clutter.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a keepsake collector. I collect souvenirs and receipts from places I’ve visited, ticket stubs for concerts & ballgames, wedding invitations, thank you cards, birthday cards, birth announcements, Christmas photo cards, and the like. Every time I do a massive paper clutter clearing day, the sentimental items get boxed up. I’d feel guilty about parting with them, as though somehow I would be throwing away the memory of a special occasion, or a special person.

Eventually, those ‘memories’ have turned into clutter.

Sentimental clutter doesn't honor the memories | Inspired Haven

Holding onto sentimental clutter doesn’t honor the memories.

The thing is, I’m pretty sure this is not how my friends and family would like their correspondence to be treasured. These either need to be put into albums, framed, or treasured for a time and then tossed.

If I discovered our friends and family members had been treasuring and tossing our letters, cards, announcements and photo greetings all these years — GASP! — I wouldn’t be upset at all.

And there is my AHA moment.

Friends, I don’t expect you to box up my memories and special events. You have my explicit permission to throw away every piece of paper and to let go of all the gifts and tchotchkes I’ve ever given you. Photos and special keepsakes from my own life events are carefully stored in albums and special frames at our house. We can visit them any time together.

If I want to reminisce with you about your or your child’s graduation, wedding day, birth story or Christmas memories, it will be with you, together. As it should be.

So this year, I’m starting a new tradition. As I take down all the Christmas cards we’ve enjoyed receiving and seeing in a place a prominence this season, I’m going to pray for each and every individual and family whose card is on our wall before I {lovingly} place their card in the recycle bin.

I can’t go so far as to toss every card I’ve ever received — there are some special ones that correspond to significant moments in my life and the lives of my closest loved ones. There are cards of encouragement that were so meaningful at the time that just seeing them again stirs up deep affection and gratitude for the wonderful people in my life. Those cards are going to be scanned and put into an album so they get the place of honor they deserve.

My ballgame and concert stubs, airline passes and the like will be photographed so I can add them to my digital scrapbook, and the original will be recycled. I’m giving myself 30 days to process and toss them… there are still a lot of bags waiting to be filled!

Everyone’s story is different. I’d love to hear, how do you deal with your keepsakes and cards?


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