Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: Do I Have To?

Do I have to decide what to keep and what to throw away? Must I alone pick through bits of family history and determine what gets passed down, what is thrown away, and what is cast aside, bound for a thrift-store's dusty shelves to sit amidst a jumble of other forlorn, forgotten objects?

Why do I choose to keep the tiny china dog, the size of a marble, and relegate the Pennsylvania Dutch trivet to the Salvation Army pile? It could be useful on my own table, that bit of ceramic tile. Or what if it's not some cheesy trinket sold in a souvenir shop; what if it's actually something precious, a bit of German art sent in gratitude to my father and mother? Who am I to determine its worth?

Here are two diaries, mine: age 10 and age 12. How life picked up in those two years! From jumping rope to getting a birthday kiss on the cheek. These notebooks are easy to keep. But who am I to decide if this letter to my grandmother, 1981, should be kept or discarded? If I keep it now, am I just relegating this job to my own daughter in some far, far future?

Box after box in my mother's attic, I choose between an object's life, death, or uncertainty. One plastic pig, a puppet, a postcard. A silk scarf, a box of picture hangers, a pair of skis. The weight of four generations rests upon me: treasure or trash? Do I have to choose?

(Need a writing prompt? This week's is "Do I Have To?" Check out Sunday Scribblings.)

8 comments:

Michelle said...

That's quite a burden... one that most of us will have to face at one point or another. Something tells me that the Salvation Army gets more treasures than we thing!! =)

Michelle said...

think - not "thing" haha

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Marbel said...

Oh, I empathize with you. When I am deciding what to keep and not, I ponder: will this be a welcome keepsake or a burden to my children? Will they care at all about this, does this have any meaning to them? A lot more stuff gets thrown out that way...

Overeducated Twit said...

I'm in the midst of a cleaning streak myself and am toying with that same dilemma. Unfortunately, when I'm in one of my frenzied cleaning spells, I'm more inclined to get rid of things-a little too easily, perhaps... :-/

CHEFDRUCK said...

it's so true - such a difficult choice to make. I struggle with what art to keep at the end of the school year...

gautami tripathy said...

When I moved house this year, I gave up on a lot of stuff. I am happy for it.

Liberate yourself

tumblewords said...

I'm never sure about what to do with things like that, either. Maybe I'll just take a nap and leave the process to the next in line. :) Nice post!