Stuff

Grumpy Bear

A well-loved Grumpy Bear

I am somewhat of a compulsive thrower-outer. Those who have seen our basement may be shocked to hear this, but it’s true. I have a low tolerance for “stuff.” I am constantly secreting things away to be given to goodwill. I say at least four times a week to my husband, my children, the walls, “We just need to get rid of EVERYTHING and start over.” Stuff, stuff, stuff.

My youngest bears the brunt of this. I got rid of nearly all the baby toys while he was still firmly in the developmentally correct stage for the toys. Let’s call it building resilience, but really it’s because I couldn’t stand to look at the pile of rattles anymore. (He’s doing fine with the approximately 3 million toys that remain by the way, don’t feel too bad for him.)

The same holds true for my childhood things. There is very little I have held on to. I have a small handful of photos, although during one nesting period of pregnancy I got rid of all the photos that didn’t have people in them. I have some old playbills of shows I appeared in. I have a small box of “treasures” – crystal things and smooth shells and other objects that reeked of magic to my seven-year old nose. But if I lost these things, except for some of the photos, I wouldn’t be too crushed.

But there are three things I have that I would be devastated if I lost.

I have an old sweater of my mother’s. It is brown and scratchy, and every time I try to try it on, I wonder how my mother could have worn it. But I remember her in it, and it makes me feel close to her. For a long time I could smell her on it, although that time has long passed. It has hung in ten closets in the past twenty years, and should we move, it will hang in eleven.

I have my mom’s flute. My mom was an amazing flute player. Although by the time she was my mom she no longer played much, it was always a treat when she brought it out. I have memories of her playing while my dad accompanied her on piano. Of her teaching me how to play my own flute. Of my bringing her flute to school and forgetting to bring it home, and the panic in her eyes. (It was recovered safely.) It was her most prized possession and in turn it has become one of mine. I played that flute at my brother’s wedding, after a two-month cram session. It is all I have left of my mother’s voice.

I have my Grumpy Bear. You know that cliché of true love, where you look at someone from across the room, your eyes meet, and you know, you just know, that you are destined to spend your lives together? That’s what happened with Grumpy Bear. I opened him up on Christmas of 1982, and that was it. He was it. Sure, I had other bears – lots of them – but none of them ever compared. He was part of the family – we even had a birthday cake for him at Christmas. Grumpy came with me almost everywhere. When he stayed behind, for the most part I knew just where he’d be when I came back, unlike the cats who had a pesky habit of moving around. (Although I do have a panicked diary entry from circa 1986: “I lost Grumpy, but then I found him.”) When I fell off my bike and broke my arm, he was there in the basket of the bike; when I returned to my beach towel after getting tossed under a tremendous wave, he was there in the sun, all warm and familiar; when I came back from the hospital the night we learned about my mom’s cancer, he was there waiting for me. He talks, although only when my dad is around. He has his own dance moves. It is still my ritual to kiss him before bed every night. And I occasionally worry about what will happen to him when I die. Would it be fair to him to have him buried with me? I just can’t stand the thought of him being thrown away.

I wonder sometimes if my children will develop attachments to any of their things, and if so, what they will be. So far, nothing seems prized – although I did get my oldest a Cheer Bear just in case. It will be interesting to see what stands the test of time, and why.

Which of your things do you value most, and why? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

14 responses to “Stuff

  1. I am a thrower-outer too. I call myself an “anti-hoarder,” and joke that TLC will someday do a reality show about me, alone in my old age in a bare apartment with no possessions. I have two girls. One was never attached to anything until she developed an uncanny love for a cheap Easter-basket bunny when she was 7. The other has five identical loveys that she sleeps with every night, and can name and identify based on little details in the stitching. It’s so interesting how we all relate differently to “stuff.” The only things I tend to get sentimental about are things I’ve personally related to. I tell my mom I have no interest in her china collection, but I do have an interest in the falling-apart Christmas decorations she put up year after year over the holidays.

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  2. This post is so relatable! I too am a declutterer, and occasionally get over-zealous (read: ruthless) in my attempts to “start fresh.” However, I am also deeply sentimental, and so after six children, I still find myself surrounded by more meaningful items than I probably need. Top of the list is George, my sock monkey (years ago, I named my first blog after him). Even after half a century, I’d be shattered if I lost him. It is very interesting to see what sticks with my girls as they leave to make their own lives.

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  3. I am a thrower-outer too. Big time. Most of my childhood things were actually taken away with bad weather…. so, I don’t have even the few things that I would want to keep. My husband is just the exact opposite and has been known to hide things from me so I wouldn’t throw them away in a cleaning frenzy. One year for our anniversary we planned a big trip and decided to make gifts for one another rather than spend more money. I made him something sweet, but I’ll never forget his thoughtful gift. He had kept every letter, note, or card I’d ever written him… down to the phone number I slipped him when we first met. I asked why I had never seen these before (after 5+ years and several moves I didn’t even know he was keeping them!) He replied, “Well, you would have just told me to throw them away!” He was right… it actually made me really rethink some of the things that I throw away. I now have a box of written items that I keep and a few of my son’s baby firsts has made it into that box as well.

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  4. What a great though provoking question! I too am an overzealous declutterer! I would never get rid of the Christmas ornaments in my collection that my mom has given me over the years (even though I don’t decorate for the holiday), or my high school yearbook!

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  5. Me too! Can’t stand clutter. But there is the hand crocheted baby blanket from my aunt, the tea set from my mom, the teddy bear from my grandma, the handmade Winny the Pooh characters from my mother-in-law, the painting from my favorite cousin. Basically, if it’s handmade, it’s not going anywhere. 🙂

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  6. I am currently vagabonding so I couldn’t have “stuff” even if I wasn’t already anti-stuff/anti-nostalgia… But I couldn’t resist taking one of my grandma’s quilts when my mom was downsizing their house. I have such fond childhood memories of my grandma’s house. My rationale for keeping the quilt was that it’s practical. (And squishable too, it fits under the car seat just fine!)

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  7. The fact that Grumpy Bear got a birthday cake at Christmas makes my heart gooey!
    I have a few things that I absolutely love. I bought an antique wooden statue my third time in Ghana, whom we have named the Colonial Gentleman. He’s chipped and wobbly, but I would seriously cry if anything happened to him.

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  8. I with you, often looking for things to get rid of in our home. I like a clean, uncluttered house. I’d rather spend time with the people I love creating memories, than collecting stuff. Maybe that’s why I value photographs. I’m a few years behind in my scrapbooking, but I’ll catch up someday. 🙂

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  9. Oh, this post hits home for me as I gear up for yet another move. 1-2 a year over the last 6 years, eesh. I can find some kind of sentimental value in almost anything. “We bought that on our first trip to the coast together,” “Someone gave that to us when we moved into our second apartment.” Haha. I’d say excepting a few very special photos, the thing that means the most to me is my Grandpa’s Pendleton hat that fit not a single one of us in the family, so I chose to keep it and put it on my dashboard so I can take him with me wherever we go 🙂

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  10. I would say weekly I tell my husband I am going to throw everything in our house away. While I haven’t done that yet we have been working our way through the Konmari declutter steps and have gotten rid of so many things. I would say I have less of an attachment to things than my husband. He has a really hard time getting rid of things and I find us holding on to things that “he might use” one day. For me the things I hold on to most often are photos- lots of photos.

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