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.)