On Being a Hoarder

Monday, September 29, 2014

I've been reading articles about cluttering and ways to remedy the malady.

Some of us are hoarders and don't even know it. We've surrounded our homes with stuff we've accumulated over the years. A lot of the stuff was given to us as gifts and they have sentimental value. We don't want, and don't, part with it. So it accumulates on shelves, in corners, in cardboard boxes or overflowing baskets.

I keep all sorts of items, like favorite birthday cards or Mother's Day cards given to me by my children. I keep old calendars because they are a sort of diary where I've kept a daily record of my goings and comings, of past appointments.

I keep bank records, tax returns, receipts that should be tossed. I have notebooks full of scribblings that mean nothing to anyone but me.

Clothes are a problem, too. There are too many of them in closets, stuffed into plastic containers, old clothes and new ones. There are purses I haven't carried in months, maybe years. But maybe someday I will, I tell myself. No one, actually, needs more than three or four purses to last the whole year; summer purses and winter combined. There's no more closet space for hanging or storing anything.

I've read that no one needs more than two sets of bed sheets per bed. More that takes up too much storage.

A friend of mine has a collection of angel statues. Most were given to her by friends and family over many years. Recently she had her kitchen re-modeled and her dining room, too. She says she's getting rid of most of the angels.

"They are dust catchers," she explained. "I just don't need them cluttering the place anymore."

She's on the right track, I'm thinking.

I have lots of photographs, too. The other day I ran across a box of old photos that were salvaged from my late grandmother's house. I have kept the photos even though I can't identify anyone in them. It just seems a shame to toss them out.

Clutter is subtle. It invades a pristine residence, intrusive, like a thief in broad daylight. It accumulates slowly, piece by piece, until it fills a room, a closet, or a cabinet to capacity.

One day we find ourselves surrounded by old magazines, catalogs, empty boxes, trinkets, extras.

Do we really need to buy and store bundles of paper towels or toilet tissue? Not when there's a store right around the corner. Do we need to duplicate kitchen tools, such as egg turners, pie servers, salt and pepper shakers, or specialty gadgets that take up counter space? How many bottles of detergent do we need? Or how many containers of bug spray or cleansers need to claim our space?

Surely, it would be better to free up more areas by purging unnecessary or unused items.

To de-clutter, we must choose between trash or treasure. We can keep, toss or donate.

There's comes a point.