As promised, I have an update on my progress on the 30-Day Minimalism Game. It’s Day 9, and today I got rid of:
- a rhinestone necklace
- a pair of rhinestone earrings
- a rhinestone bracelet
- a knitted bracelet
- a flower vase
- a pair of reading glasses
- a sleeping mask
- a tan wicker basket, and . . .
. . . 9. my grandfather’s University of Alabama cap.
Most of us hang onto at least one item for its sentimental value; for me, it’s Grandpa’s cap. I gave it to him when I was going to school at Alabama. People told me he wore that cap everywhere. Grandpa died in 1995, and I still miss him. I’ve held on to that cap since the day Grandma gave it back to me after his funeral. I could never bring myself to get rid of it.
After 24 years, however, I finally shed my attachment to the cap. It still holds sentimental value, but it’s taking up space. it’s time to let someone else get some use out of it. When I’m faced with a tough decision to purge a sentimental item, here’s what I tell myself:
Don’t let a gift burden you.
It’s okay to give away a gift. It was given to you, so it’s yours to do with it what you want. There’s no rule that you must keep a gift, especially if you won’t use it.
Stop feeling guilty.
I know many of my relatives would wag their fingers at me for giving away some of my heirlooms. But hanging onto all these items runs counter to the kind of nomadic and free life I want to live. Therefore, I don’t feel guilty for making room for how I want to live my life.
Your sentimental item doesn’t have to end up in a landfill. If it’s still in good condition, donate it. Is there a relative or friend who might want it? At least it’ll end up with someone who will appreciate it.
Just keep one.
My cousin gave me a tote bag full of embroidered washcloths and handkerchiefs from our grandmother and great-grandmother. I’ll have no room in my RV to keep the whole bag, and I don’t want anything to happen to them. I’ll just keep one heirloom and give the rest away. While giving them away will be bittersweet, I’ll have fun picking out my favorite item.
I no longer need to keep the Alabama cap to miss and remember Grandpa . . . how at the dinner table he always said, “The one who eats the fastest gets the most!” . . . how he loved playing “sheepshead” with the family . . . the way he made all the grandkids feel like they were his favorite.
I never thought I would get to this point, but I was able to let go of the cap and still hang onto my memories. In fact, I don’t even visualize him wearing the cap. I have the pictures in my head . . . and in my heart.