Tag Archives: antique

abandoned thrift

As I walked through the zig-zagging streets of Nîmes, I stumbled across this antiques shop, for sale. Poor caged up, used up, antique baby in an even more antique chair. Who will take you in now?

long lineage

During our trip to visit my extended family over the past few days, many stories about the hoarders in our family were recounted. It almost made me feel proud that my tendencies are so restrained in comparison. As I posted yesterday, my grandmother is not at all ashamed of her tendency to keep things and to get things for free. She lived through the Great Depression and it was engrained in her, “waste not, want not.” (On a side note– in a difficult moment, she offered me more handmade dish towels that I had to decline.)

In addition to my grandmother, though, I heard stories about her sister Bea and her closets full of collectibles. She had a family free-for-all when she moved into a smaller condo. Everyone was invited to come through the farm-house and take whatever antiques they desired, especially enamel dishes, wooden ironing boards, and old utensils.

My aunt was looking for a moment of solitude over the weekend when she could sneak piles of my  uncle’s things out of the house. Their house, in my view, is quite clean and under control. She said her method is to put unused things in a box. Then if six months have passed and she hasn’t looked in the box, she gets rid of the box. Even she has created coping mechanisms to deal with the clutter.

not my clutter

I think, as I digest all of this, that keeping things is sort of a normal human compulsion. We all accumulate things whether we like to or not. The problem arises for some of us when the anxiety of letting go becomes too great. I tried to explain to D. the other night what a big deal this really is to me. I never realized I had any type of problem with “stuff” until I started writing about it. Now that I’ve had several little breakdowns when asked to throw things out, I know there is a compulsion to hoard at work within me. If I were left alone (and indeed, when I did live alone), I would live in piles of clutter that would get cleaned up only when company was expected. I feel virtuous now for what I’ve been able to shed, and anguished when told it isn’t enough. I know I can live well and fine without my things, but confronting their absence is a constant and difficult battle for me.

christmas hoarding

Among my box of Christmas decorations that gets hauled out every year are ornaments that have been inherited from my Grandmother, soon to be 88 years old. This year I actually opened an envelope that said something about a living will for a person I’ve never heard of. Inside the envelope: a flimsy cardboard crèche scene that I managed to throw in the recycling. There was also a never-opened “card-hanging string set” dating from 1964. I had no idea what it was until D. opened the package. Unopened since 1964, kept in an envelope for at least the last 12 years, and my non-hoarding husband had no trouble ripping open the package and setting the contents free.

We laughed about it and threw it out, but it nagged at me for a moment. Wait! That could have been valuable to someone, new in the package. It’s an antique. Ummm… yes, but a useless one, passed on from my hoarding inclined maternal grandmother.