“Just toss it!” is the rallying cry of these weeks. But some items we simply can’t bring ourselves to discard. 9 writers share
"I save nothing,” I said to the women on the park bench, with just the tiniest hint of smugness. “When I moved,” I continued, “I started packing two weeks before M-day, because everything I have I use. When I Pesach clean, I search for chometz. When my siblings need help spring cleaning, they call me. My advice? Throw it out!”
I’m not quite Marie Kondo, but even she admitted that it’s harder to live Spartan when you have kids. Still, when I clean out under the beds, I earn the title “Mean Mommy,” and I wear it proudly. You have one under-the-bed box, I tell my kids, and if it’s full, well, throw something out to fit the next thing in.
But then I heard what these women were saving. Sheva brachos outfits, tchotchkes from friends, tiny little baby clothes that are long out of style…. That’s what they talking about? That’s not stuff you save in a fit of sentimentality! That’s all the stuff I have crammed into the back of my closets.
If I have it, there’s a reason, and not just because it still gives me joy. My obscenely expensive sheva brachos outfit? It was obscenely expensive! And though I’m no longer the same shape, I weigh what I did when I got married, so surely I’ll be able to wear it again one day.
Old letters from friends? My very first Family First article was about how I threw out my great-grandmother’s birthday cards. I’m not going to make the same mistake twice. Call me anything you want but stupid.
Coats? Onesies? For the most part, I give away my hand-me-downs; let someone else enjoy them while they’re still somewhat stylish. But baby clothing that no one but me sees? Who cares if it’s fashionable? It would be an aveirah to throw it out.
And my old coat, that one that’s missing all the buttons? We can sew on buttons. (Rest assured — the reason I got a new coat has nothing to do with buttons.) Report cards and love letters from my kids? I’m a mother, not a witch!
I’d been expecting to hear talk about parshah projects and broken costume jewelry worn on first dates. Magazines dating from before my oldest was born. High school notes and songbooks from camp. I have none of that. One woman whose children are all married did wax poetic about the living history she had of them in her house — every project, every note from school, saved.
I don’t bronze my baby’s first shoes, or keep locks of golden hair from my sons’ upsheren. I threw out my kallah bouquet the morning after sheva brachos, and repurposed those ugly salt shakers from Great-Aunt Marla as quickly as I could. Sometimes I dream of making each of my kids a scrapbook, but then life takes over.
I save things that still have use. Like books I can still tape up, toys the kids might decide to play with again, and old makeup that could be good for Purim.
Yes, I stand by what I said before. I save nothing.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 734)
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