Sentimentality & Holding Onto Items
This is my doll collection.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am not meant to have a doll collection. I mean, just look at how dusty and slouchy those poor dolls are! It’s as though they’ve been sitting in a laundry basket in a basement closet wrapped in Wegmans shopping bags for the past decade.
Actually, they have been sitting in a laundry basket in a basement closet wrapped in Wegmans shopping bags for the past decade. Even if I were a doll collection type of person, I just don’t know where I would put them! We live in a smallish house and there are few around-the-house-type spaces that aren’t occupied by the things we need, or storage-type spaces that aren’t filled with the things I can’t get rid of.
I swear, I am by no means a pack-rat, but I do have a hard time getting rid of anything tied to someone I love (or that has a face). For example:
Exhibit A: This is piano music I never play.
Some of it belonged to my mother, like 100 Greatest Hits of the 60’s and 70’s and Great Songs of the Sixties; some of it, like Bette Midler’s From a Distance and Whitney Houston’s rendition of I Will Always Love You, was given to me by my mother. I already have a big shelf overflowing with piano music I do play so I really ought to throw away what I don’t, but because of their ties to my mother these will probably stay with me forever.
Exhibit B: This is an index card that has been sitting on my dresser for years.
An index card, mind you, not a card. My mother sent it to me when I finished my masters degree. She was sick and in the middle of chemo treatments and couldn’t make it to my graduation. It was such a dismal and depressing time, an index card seemed to make sense; but I’m so glad I held onto it because I find encouragement in her words to this day.
Since we’re talking about holding onto things, can we address this bottle of Gap Dream I just noticed on my dresser? That’s like the 1999 version.
I’m fairly sure I bought this in high school, meaning it’s been with me for 16 years. I have no idea when I last wore Gap Dream.
Exhibit C: I guess we should also talk about the dresser the index card and the Gap Dream are sitting on. This dresser is 100 sizes too big for my home and has very ornate and scary claw feet. It originally came from my grandmother’s house where it made far more sense situated adjacent to a large canopy bed.
Even if I could figure out how to get the dresser out of my house, I’m sure I would never get rid of it. I have fond memories of rummaging through its drawers when it belonged to my grandmother, admiring her costume jewelry and imaging a day when I would be elegant and fancy like her (still waiting).
Exhibit D: The outfit pictured above. My mother took me to the mall to buy this outfit for my senior picture in 1999. In my day, senior pictures were taken at the local portrait studio and consisted of a few headshots and a couple pictures of you casually leaning on a giant ’99 (or whatever year it was when you graduated). I’ve posed the outfit to give you an idea of what I might have looked like, hands on hips, standing next to that ’99.
Even if I wanted to wear this outfit from the late 90’s, I doubt very much if I could fit into it. Problem is, I have a complete inability to throw away clothes my mother bought for me. In fact, this is just one example of the many clothing items I’m holding onto in my giant claw foot dresser.
Now, back to that doll collection. Growing up, every Christmas my mother would buy me a new Madame Alexander doll – this is how I became an unlikely doll collector. I cannot part with the dolls, but I don’t know what to do with them either. I hadn’t looked at them or thought them worth looking at in years, a fact which filled me with shame as I remembered the sentimentality which led my mother to buy them to begin with.
These she bought during my Little Women phase.
These princes she bought after deciding I should start collecting boys. Hmmm.
And she bought this one after my high school graduation.
As I pulled each doll from its plastic bag, my daughters watched in anxious anticipation. They examined their delicate details as I explained how each doll related to my childhood. Some of the stories they knew and some I will share with them when they’re old enough, just as my mother shared them with me. I’m sure when my mother picked out each of these dolls she was thinking of how pleasing they would be to a little girl, but I doubt she knew how many generations of little girls they would please.
I have to be honest, my idea for this post was to poke fun at the useless and silly things I’ve held onto simply because they’re connected to my loved ones. Now I don’t think I can make such a case. Items like an index card, tattered piano music, really outdated clothing, or an out-of-place doll collection might cause an outside observer to scratch their head, but as far as I’m concerned each of them tells a story worth remembering (well, except maybe the body spray). Could I remember the stories without the objects? Maybe, but I don’t want to.
I’m sure some of you are holding onto things that make little sense without knowing their context. I’m sure some of you have been encouraged to let these items go and I’m sure some of you have questioned holding on them yourselves. We’ve talked lots and lots about the practicalities of letting things go, but from a sentimental stand point all I want to say is that, I get you. You’re not the only one with old shirts tucked in the back of your drawer and a large doll collection stowed away in your closet. We’re all okay.
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