My grandmother never threw anything away. She always figured she'd need whatever she was holding in her hand someday: Cool Whip containers, big pieces of cardboard, little scraps of fabric.
My mother constantly de-cluttered. If the object in question didn't have an immediate, useful purpose, it was gone.
As a result of this mixed heritage, I'm paralyzed.
I throw something out and then go retrieve it.
I start a little collection of something (once I have two of anything, it's considered a collection) and then one day, I'll toss it all overboard.
It makes for some tough cleaning binges.
Like right now when we are re-carpeting most of the house.
It's an opportunity to look at everything up close and decide: Do I keep this? When will I ever use it?
Will it take up space I need for something else? What if I throw it out and a grandchild needs a stray bit of soiled leather for a school project?
I am conflicted most of the time.
On the one hand, I hear my practical, thrifty grandma saying I ought not to throw anything out that still has something to give to the world.
On the other hand, my grandmother's house was filled to the brim with old magazines, cards, letters, bits of this and that. (It made for a wonderful treasure house for visiting grandchildren.) She could barely move from room to room in it.
My mother's house was a lot more tidy but not as much fun.
So I lean from one side to the other.
Fortunately, right now we're planning a family garage sale to help Scott/Toby/Alyson or Fiona get to the Olympics someday.
So I don't have to decide between toss and save.
In fact, I have several options: Save it for my dress-up closet or grandkid toy pile or donate it to the Deseret Industries, the trash can or the garage sale.
It makes it so I can put off the moment of decision and still feel I'm accomplishing something.
I'll just have to keep track of what I give away — maybe take the buyer's phone number — so I can go get it back if I need to.
2 years ago