Thursday, 15 March 2012

Sentimentality and clutter in the home

I've come to realise that I'm quite the sentimental cat lately. I peered at the cluttered-yet-organised line of things on my sideboard recently and realised that there was a theme: they were things all related to my family and/or childhood.

There was the boat my artistic brother created for my daughter out of a seed pod, a ship's sail from a pop-up book and the head of a character from Ice Age he'd found.

Next to that was a glass bird paperweight he'd once given to me.

Next to that was a little wind up clock from my late Aunt's bedroom.

Alongside that was an elephant moneybox my mum's friend had given to me, which made me remember that my late Aunt collected elephants.

Then there was a jar of buttons just like the one my Grandmother used to keep.

As well as these things, the sideboard was also covered in various glass arrangements with flowers, old cards from friends and a pile of books I am supposedly (but never really) getting through. As I tried to tidy up there I found it extremely difficult to move the things that held sentimental value, and even the few that triggered the memories of the people I love or have loved. It's a strange thing, sentimentality. It's like it pulls you apart inside, this need to keep the things that hold you to your past. Like the knitted leprechaun that I stash in my daughter's blanket drawers that belonged to the same late Aunt. I just can't part with it. I don't want to see it every day either, but I would feel a terrible feeling, perhaps betrayal or disrespect, if I ever chose to part with it. The dressing gowns I have from her as well, the long silky things that she wore year round as she was ill for much of her life, I keep for my own dear love. I think of her wearing them when I see them and it makes me smile to touch them again.

The elephant moneybox is the only sentimental item remaining on the sideboard now, but it seems lonely there. The boat has been put amongst my daughter's things. The clock and the jar of buttons have been put up in the bookshelf in the corner. But I feel myself about to put them back. They say not to keep too many sentimental things, too many cluttered memories, but I think the little things don't hurt. I have perhaps 15 items in my house that are especially sentimental, including jewellery, and when things are special to me I simply cannot part with them.

I will keep the memories as part of my decor, where appropriate, and am thinking of even getting shadowboxes to showcase the finer pieces. (I'll be sure to post pics if and when that happens, because, please note, i'm slow with craft..) I think as long as you don't have your Grandmother's entire wardrobe in a box or your late mother's china cat collection taking up a full wall of your loungeroom, the memories can't hurt.

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