Julie Owsik Ackerman
Every year, with the inundation of new stuff at Christmas, I feel a corresponding need to get rid of old stuff. I like the general rule that for every new thing I bring into the house, one old thing goes out of the house. But I rarely follow that rule exactly.
So instead of waiting for that long stretch of free time to declutter the house—never gonna happen—I’ve been clearing out space little by little. For example, when I couldn’t find a place in any of our bookcases for new books, I weeded through the old ones and dropped them off at the library. (Come on, was I really going to read Midnight’s Children again?) When I went into the attic to put away wrapping paper, I noticed a basket full of old magazines, and gave them to a friend who makes collages. I love the idea of things that were sitting in my house unused could be used and loved by other people.
A little harder has been deciding what baby stuff to keep. I have the shoes my little guy learned to walk in, I have the hair from his first haircut, I have the stuffed lion that we bought him when he was still in utero. But so many of his clothes, toys, and equipment were just sitting in my attic. Part of me wants to hold onto it all, in case we have another child. And the rest of me wants to trust that if we have another child, people will pass on to us what they’re no longer using. Like if I give things away, what I need will come back to me. Is this foolish? I’m not sure. But it feels so good to give things that were sitting in my attic to friends (and strangers) who need them right now. It feels like by letting go of what I don’t currently need, I’m making space in my life for new things. I like that idea.
How do you decide what to keep and what to give away?