Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What to do with treasures in the attic? ~ Seeking answers

I climbed the stairs to the attic the other day and could hardly find a place to land. As I've said to anyone who will listen, my attic is a museum waiting to happen.

Surrounded by boxes and tubs and stuff of diverse nature, I was reminded how this all got started.

When The Man and I married, one of the first purchases I made for our little home was a sturdy cardboard storage box. It covered the entire length and breadth of the kitchen table. The Man walked in and asked, "What’s that for?"

"Oh, just stuff," I said.

"What stuff?" he wanted to know.

"Important stuff."

He said, "OK," and shrugged his shoulders.

In time, the cardboard box overflowed and multiplied, our daughter was born, and we bought a house in the suburbs.

One evening, The Man discovered me waist-deep in plastic storage tubs, surrounded by monuments of … stuff. 

"What is the meaning of all of this?" he asked, spreading his arms in a wide sweep.

"I think it means we’re settling down," I offered weakly.

He was too entangled in the heap to hear me.

"Why on earth are you keeping this? And what on earth is it?” He dangled a furry, gray pouch by its braided leather strap.

"That," I said, "is my old rabbit-skin purse from 1973. I have to keep that."

He studied the purse. "Whatever for?"

I shrugged. "I don’t know. Pencils. Postcards. Something."

He was not impressed.


Through the years, my collection of things that “needed” saving has grown. Indeed, my attic floor groans from the weight of boxes on top of boxes, tubs on top of tubs. Some are curiously labeled: DO NOT OPEN. DO NOT THROW AWAY. JUST KEEP. So, I do.

(via Google)

And I’m not alone. Saving cherished objects is a widespread tradition.

Baby items are quite popular. 

Good thing, since I still have most of my daughter’s clothes, toys and books from childhood. 

This is only a fraction of the toys in the attic.

I stored all these things with the intention of having a grandbaby one day.

I still don’t have one. 

I do, however (woot, woot), have an amazing grand-niece (sugar plum, I call her), and she has already put to good use a number of the relics, including what was my daughter's beloved car. 

Flashback to April, 1990, when my daughter was three. She adored this car and here she is peddling a doll, and a stack of books, to "church" on the deck out back. (Pardon the lack of quality; it's a pic from a home video, one I can't watch without a few tears falling.)

But back to the attic, I fully intend to haul down more of the old toys and books as sugar plum gets older. (And I'm getting another grand-niece! Twin sister's lovely daughter is due in June. I'm so excited!)

But I digress again from the attic situation ... see what I mean? Always something to distract me.

There’s the matter of the shoes. My daughter is now married, but most of her shoes—from birth to kindergarten, many in their original boxes—are still with me. (You're looking at just the top layer.) 

Some appear hardly worn. 

Others are worn out.

They all do crazy things to my heart whenever I look at them.

In years past, I considered getting rid of them. But at the moment of surrender, I faltered. I just couldn’t do it. And I realize I can't ever do it. Parting with them now would be like asking me for my daughter’s feet.

There are hoards of other boxes and tubs I'm not forcing on you here. For one, I haven't shown you the tub filled with trophies the daughter received in school, and speaking of trophies ...

If we ever have a grandson (wouldn't that be magical?), there's all of The Man's baseball trophies and mementos from his days of playing ball. (I mean, seriously. How do you throw away trophies?)

But the truth is I simply can't keep everything that is currently in the attic. I’ve vowed to have “attic day,” a day to sort and purge and dispose of. I vowed it last year and the year before, but I’m running out of time, and room. The matter is approaching urgent. This has to be the year. That's what I keep telling myself. 

And that was my reason for being in the attic the other day ... just looking around, weighing the massive, not to mention emotional, task ahead. 

Do wish me luck. I'll let you know how it goes ... if it goes.

Until next time, sweet friends, you can't keep it all, but please don't throw it all away.


Opening up my bulging attic over at Sherry's Open House Party. 


  1. I have everyone of the books you picture there! And the washer/dryer combo is Nora's favorite play toy now at my house. I have her mother's doll house in the attic. The other stuff is making it's way down for Nora and Ava. I know how hard it's going to be. Be strong. You can do it.

    1. Thanks, Renee. I plan to keep the bigger toys, and, of course, all of the books (who can part with books?). As for the other stuff ... help me, dear Lord. Nice to know I'm not alone, though.

  2. Oh, sweetheart, I do not envy you at all! When we left VA, we downsized dramatically. Because what the kids didn't want, we gave away and donated. Now that we're in a smaller home, all that work was so worth it!...:)JP

  3. O wow, that is one heck of a lot of stuff. I definitely don't envy you your task, but when you get ready you will know.

  4. Good luck and God bless. I'm not holding my breath.

    1. Don't buy your grandchild any stuffed animals. I haven't even mentioned those! Have mercy!

  5. Oh my...sooo many memories. Can I tell you what I did? With 4 children there was simply not enough attic space, or garage space, or closet space to keep all the childhood memories they all collected. Sooo each child had a box and a scrapbook. I filled the scrapbook with not only things that they had written, pictures and crafts they had made, but all their report cards, AND when an item was treasured by either the child (or me) and they couldn't bear to part with it or it didn't fit in the box, I took a picture of it and in the book it went. The box while large would only hold so much. Each child was in charge of what went in that box. It changed through the years. When they married or moved out they took the box and I kept the scrapbook. I have picture after picture of things that I look at once in a while and shed tears and reminisce. I did pass down books from child to child. Melody took many of them when she married and moved. When we moved from the home they all grew up into this MUCH MUCH smaller one there was still TONS AND TONS of things to get rid of and sort through. I was ruthless in my getting rid of, donating, and passing out. I am sooo glad now I did it. I have my scrap books for each kid, and my pictures of years past, and moved on. I do have "some" things (puzzles, books, old little people sets) that I saved for the grand kids to play with them come, but I have had sooo much fun replenishing those shelves I keep for them with new items they have helped me pick out. OH! and I kept in my hope chest some of the little dresses I made for Melody for special holidays and celebrations (I think there are 5 or 6 of them) that I keep thinking "maybe" a daughter (if she ever has one!) of hers might one some day. Sooo there you have it, haha. Sorry to write a book but this post struck such a heart tug for me. I get it I do. But when you are ready this might help. Take a pictures, write a brief description and store it all in a book. Good luck! HUGS

  6. oH! (thought I was done? haha) just an idea on the trophey's. My oldest son had simply an unaccountable amount. He was soo athletic and had mainly karate trophey's he had won over the years. I insisted he take them with him when he married, (there was NOWHERE to store them, haha) which he considered at that time just throwing away. But! he kept them and through the years he has passed every one of them out now to students of his (he is a karate instructor) for various different things. He would simply have the name (and event if necessary) changed. They all knew they were his old trophey's which made them all the more valuable to them. Soo recycled trophey's, who would have thought it? haha

    1. Thanks, Debbie. Great ideas. And now I'm glad I only have one child. :)

    2. Now, I think I could 'live with ' that solution.

  7. Maybe your girlie could go through things with you to tell you what she will want some day. I do know it's really difficult to go through your parents stuff after the fact and have to face the truth that you have to either get rid of most of it, or rent a storage unit. When we had to do that with my in-laws, it insprired me, for my kid's sake, to go through things now.

    1. She would probably tell me to dump it all. LOL! Some days, I feel like doing just that, but I can at least make a dent in things. Being at my parents' so much in recent months is what really motivated me. I dread the day my sisters and I have to plunder through their stuff, even though they don't really have a lot, compared to most people, I would guess.

  8. Dayle - You are my sister-of-the-heart. I have stuff that means nothing to anyone but me and I just can't bear to part with it. It did help when I had grandkids because I passed it along but-guess what--they outgrew it---and the kids said-shall I get rid of it? I said- No-I'll take it It is a SICKNESS I tell you! Let me know how the purging goes for you! xo Diana

    1. A sickness of the heart, perhaps ... [sigh] Funny thing, but I don't hang onto much of anything but my daughter's things. I have some things from my childhood, but they all fit into one drawer. :)

  9. Oh Dayle, how I chuckled over this post. Oh Dayle, if you could only SEE our attic. At first, I thought you came over here and snapped some photos. ha ha ha Our attic is HORRENDOUS. I cannot even start to organize because I don't know where to begin. I know I have to DECLUTTER increduously, but how?

    Wouldn't it be great if you could come here and help me and I could go there and help you? Alas, we are too many states apart.

    But, if it's any consolation, my attic is a freaking mess. ha hahah Susan

    1. That would, indeed, be marvelous, Susan. At least you made me feel better about the state of my attic. :)

  10. Great post, loved it :) I am visiting you via No Minimalist Here. I would love for you to stop by My Dream Canvas. I am hosting a Giveaway for my blog's birthday. Please join in if you like it :)

  11. Well Dayle. You actually made me feel better. I guess I'm not the only 'saver' in the world haha. I actually felt like plopping down in the middle of your attic and opening up those bins to explore. I'm not the person to help you here. I recommend a nice hot bath, a glass of wine and shutting the attic door. :)
    Leslie (Gwen Moss)

  12. I have the hardest time parting with things ... expecially if they were my children's!
    I agree, shut the door and go relax! ;)

  13. I am somewhat of a saver but I've started only saving things that don't have a really long story attached. If I'm the only person that it will mean something to, I can part with it.

  14. shoes... yes, they were the hardest to part with. Don't know why but they really held a special place in my heart. When our girls married and left home I sent huge storage containers of every greeting card they ever received, toys, books, clothing and much more. Those stinkers informed me they are not sentimental and disposed of much of it. My oldest even had the audacity to sell some of the precious figurines I bought every birthday to decorate her cake with!!! ha! Well, guess they can't be accused of materialism and don't have to fight clutter. I should learn from those girls :)

  15. We have the same sort of attic!.....but we also have a garage that has never seen a car. (well, not a car that could actually be driven out into the driveway, but there is a 1957 TR3)
    Not quite an episode of 'Hoarders' but rather jam-packed nonetheless.

  16. I need a bigger attic! heehee! I've gotten rid of a lot of things because of big moves across the country. I tried to give my sons their things but they didn't want them so I kept just a few. Better not let me near the Golden books or dolls! I might go out with my pockets full! heehee! Enjoy your day....oh and good luck!

  17. Dayle,
    This week I've been purging a few things myself, though it's always difficult to get rid of any of the kids things. Seems as though I keep running out of room here and there for everything. My hope is that one day, my kids will take some of their items to hold onto for keepsakes for their own children. Until then, I'll just keep on storing stuff.
    Good luck with your clean-out, for some reason I don't think you'll make it very far. (sympathetic reminiscent grin inserted)

  18. How did you manage to get all those pictures from my attic? I didn't even hear you pull down the stairs??

    Seriously, you save exactly the kinds of things that I save and for the same reason, which is what they do to your heart.

    In the past three years or so, I have been systematically and s l o w l y weeding out, and I have to say that the best motivation is that I can now see the most cherished trees in the mass yet organized forest that was our attic. I had a hard time culling out the girls little dresses, but I finally decided to give myself permission to keep some of them but give away the greater portion. As for toys, well, many are still there as are two little mountains of memory boxes, one per daughter.

    I'm with you.
    My best advice is this:

    Pick a category and bring stuff from that category only down front and center to the living room. Open the boxes and refuse to put it back until you have eliminated at least some. Then, pick another category. It worked for me.

    Also, find someone who would treasure some of it to give it to rather than just willy nilly giving it away.

    Sorry this is so long.

  19. I am so pleased to hear from so many who share my, uh ... problem. It truly makes me feel less alone in this world. Seriously. And what great advice from all of you! Thanks, sweet peeps, from my heart!

  20. My attic looks similar. I tackled part of it this spring but still have a ways to go. It takes time to go through so many memories :)

  21. This tour of your attic is oh so familiar . . .
    Such warm feelings ii every photo.

  22. Oh good grief it seems parts of everyone's story is MY story. I am alone now /2 years and at 74+ yrs old it's only logical that I start this thinning out process. Ihad zero, zilch, nothing growing now I have a wonderful house with treasures resembling the world around me in mid century etc..and Dayle your boxes of your dau's belongings make you look like OCD-a neat freak-lol at me. I consider myself in a state of organized, planned clutter re decorating/storage etc..still as I look forward -lordy me how to let go [one son's answer to that would be a clear"Mom, it's just stuff"..easy for him to say, right?


Dear Readers, I adore your company and your comments. If you ask questions here, I respond to them here, so please check back when you have a chance. Kind regards, Dayle