To Keep or to Toss?

Tracy Sano essays

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My mom likes stuff. She’s a bit of a collector. She’s not like “Hoarders: Buried Alive” yet or anything. Maybe more of the “Borderline Hoarder: Might Be Buried Some Day So Keep Checking on Me” variety.

Mom has had stuff stashed away for the grandkids since before there was an inkling that there might be grandkids. Also if the end of the world comes, my parents will be the last ones living because they have a bunker in their basement with canned food that could keep them going for years.

My sister, on the other hand, is a tosser. She throws everything away. She places zero sentimental value on anything and therefore things that are not necessary for everyday use she considers to be clutter. Mandy has always been like that. When were kids, Mandy and I shared a room. I remember one day we were cleaning out our closets. I held up a sweater one of my mom’s friends had knitted me a few years ago. Since she had made one for Mandy too, I turned to her for advice. “Ugh. I feel so bad. Obviously this sweater took a lot of time to make. It’s really nicely made but let’s be honest, I’m never going to wear it. But I feel horrible giving it away. What should I do?” I asked my sister who was throwing things into the “giveaway” bag at lightening speed.

She momentarily looked up from her “tossing.”

“Are you kidding me?” she snorted. “I got rid of that thing like two days after we got it. Yeah, it was a nice gesture but it’s ugly. I can’t believe you still have it!” She shook her head as she went back to her sorting.

I probably kept the sweater for another year or so before I finally got rid of it. That pretty much sums us all up. Mom keeps things, Mandy throws everything away, and I’m somewhere in between.

What’s hilarious is watching my niece deal with living in a Throw-Away house. She’s 4 years old and by now she’s figured out that things in her house “disappear” unexpectedly. Mandy said sometimes she sneaks things over to Grammy’s for safekeeping because she’s also figured out nothing disappears at Grammy’s house.

When I was out visiting them last, we took my niece Kailee to the grocery store. She ogled over a Princess Ariel Pez dispenser and my sister told her if she was good the entire time—no whining!—she could keep it. On her best behavior, she got to take Ariel home. The next day, I saw her frantically rifling through a drawer in the kitchen.

“Kailee, whatcha looking for?” I asked.

“My Ariel! I can’t find my Ariel. Someone must have throwed it away,” she sighed.

I chuckled, “Oh yeah, who would do that?” “I don’t know,” she shrugged her shoulders.

I don’t know what’s funnier: that she has figured out and accepted that things just disappear….OR that she has no idea who the “someone” is and finds it totally acceptable that some mystery person creeps into her house throwing her belongings away.

So Mandy made a deal with her: Kailee has a nightstand with two drawers and anything that she wants to keep in them, Mandy promised won’t get thrown away. I love looking in Kailee’s drawers to see what treasures she’s deemed worthy of protecting. All her special things get put in there for safe keeping against “someone” throwing them away.

Last time I peeked in there, she had stashed these little plastic animals and a couple of other things that I had given her and I was so giddy that she had wanted to spare her presents from Auntie from disappearing.

My sister simplifies her life by not holding onto material things she doesn’t need. She likes to physically remove clutter from her living space because it helps her think and see clearly. I think I’ll take her lead and do a cleanout of the things I don’t need, in order to declutter my space but also my mind.

What about you? Are you a keeper or a tosser?


About the Author

Tracy Sano

Tracy loves to laugh and tells her tales of love, life and libations on her humor blog, . Her greatest accomplishment to date is being named "Best Auntie in theWorld" by those who matter.

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March 2015 – Simplify
We are partnering this month with the marvelous minimalists:
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