Who the hell am I keeping it for?

I had a pretty interesting conversation recently, about what we keep. Why we keep it. Who we are keeping it for. And what interests will they have in what we leave behind!

As a woman with no kids and husband, there are not that much family left to give my family heirlooms to. The only ones left of my blood relatives are my mum, brother, half sister and some second cousins…

I have a large step-family (trough dad), but I’m assuming that whenever I’m not around any more, they might only be interested in some of my personal things. I can’t see that they would be much interested in things from my blood relatives, with maybe the exception of some of my dad’s stuff.

Thinking about this conversation have made me realize, that I’m keeping some thing from my past and my family’s past, that most likely nobody after me, will care one iota about! So who am I keeping it for? Well it turns out I’m obviously keeping it for me, and me alone! And that’s a pretty enlightening thought!

This morning I suddenly realized that keeping in mind, that I’m pretty much keeping things for me, and me alone, is going to make an big impact on my decluttering process.

I have a few bigger projects/tasks in mind for this fall. And I think the conclusion above is going to make these projects a whole lot easier to accomplish.

As an example I’ll tell you about – My huge photo collection. Tons and tons of albums, loose films, loose photos (not yet put into albums) and boxes of old inherited photos of people I barely know (or don’t know as it is). My intention have been to put the photos into albums (been working on it, on again, off again, the last few years) and the rule was, that what doesn’t go into albums will be tossed!

Somewhere along the way, I also decided I want to scan them all, so that I can have them as digital photos. Then I could clean up my albums. Since we are talking thousands of photos, this have seemed like such an undertaking, that I haven’t gotten it started yet.

Well this morning it dawned on me that, since I have no kids that will be interested. My half sister and my brother have no kids of their own (yeah we are really hopeless at producing kids). The family line is pretty much dying out with us (which is kinda sad when you think about it). So who am I keeping all these photographs for? Obviously no one! I can’t imagine my step family being interested in photos from my mums line of family, grandparents, their siblings and so on. Most likely they would just toss away the lot of it.

So what am I saying? Well for this instance, I’m saying my task of scanning suddenly got waaay less complicated. Conclusion is to keep a few key pictures as real photos (but only of people I know), scan a few more and then get rid of the rest. I mean seriously, I hardly ever look at those old photos, mum don’t ask for them and she is the only one left, who might know who they are. Dad have passed away, my brother wouldn’t care less, so why should I be so darned compelled to be the photos keeper?

So I just decided, I’m only going to keep the photos that are important to me! And me alone! So there 😉

Phew, I think I just went from several thousand of potential scans down to a third, hopefully less! But we will see how it goes when I start the job this fall 😉

But for now, I’m pretty happy with my conclusion.

I mentally decluttered a lot of things today! Especially since this doesn’t only apply to the photos…

What about you, have you ever thought seriously about what you are leaving behind, why and for whom? It might be pretty enlightening… and you never know, it might just shift a few priorities around!

28 comments

  1. nrhatch

    What a break-through for you! If you come across photos with “historical significance” that mean little to you, you might offer them to a historical society for their collection.

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    • Anne Lene

      I think most if them are photos of people that was in my family members life’s, and travels they were on.. But I’ll keep it in mind if I should come across anything that looks like it could be worth something to someone else. Thank you! Great idea 🙂

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  2. thereseastrom

    Good for you! I also have photos that I really don’t know if anyone but me values… Haven’t decided what to do with those but would love to get rid of the boring albums 🙂

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    • Anne Lene

      Yeah, I’m going to drastically cut the amounts of photos I keep in physical albums, most I’ll just keep in digital format. Then I can get rid off my huge, and I mean huge 500+ photo albums that I probably have about 15 off…

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  3. JaN

    I am in your corner! I have so many things that I have also been wondering who will care? I have searched for a historical society in the area where my mother grew up but have found none. So I’ll have to ‘fan out’ to a nearby city. Things of historical value should never be tossed in the trash. Of course value is in the eye of the beholder – like Beauty! – and can change with the decades. So………….this means save everything? No! What a responsibility! I think everything is of interest to someone, somewhere and all you can do is expose it somewhere in hopes it will be found and valued. I guess you can tell this is a real issue for me, too. One idea could be just giving the photos/artifacts to someone who has a flea market booth or antique store.

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    • Anne Lene

      I agree, things of historical value is definitely worth making sure it goes to the right place if it’s not kept in the family. I don’t think the things I have fall much into the historical value though. The photos are either from my life or family members life, and people in their lives. But I’ll definite keep it in mind should I come across photos or items that might be worth something to others 🙂

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  4. Jen (Me Woman You Man)

    I also have a photo problem, although I do have two kids that I am saving them for besides myself…For years I’ve been wanting to go through the albums (dozens of my own and dozens of my mom’s dating back to her childhood in the 1940s) plus all of the loose photos I’ve received from other relatives and all of the digital ones (thousands) since my kids were born. If you start tackling yours in the fall, I promise to start tackling mine as well. Maybe we can check in once in a while with plans/progress/words of encouragement!

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  5. laurakelly2

    I do have two nieces so I have lots of conversations with my sister about what I should be holding on to for the girls, who are now in their 20’s. Getting my family to actually remove things from my home that they are interested in is a bit laborious at times.
    Photo albums and scrapbooks are on my list of things that need to be organized. I have the hardest time getting rid of things like yearbooks. I have maybe looked at my yearbooks from both high school and college only a handful of times in the past 30 plus years.

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    • Anne Lene

      Yes, there are items that are harder than others to get rid of or reduce. I struggle with the photos as well 😉

      Your doing pretty good if your family get to pick things they want already. A lot if people just wait with handing it out untill it’s to late, and then it’s easy for important family items to get lost in the “clutter”. Much better to do it early while it’s still possible to tell the items story 🙂

      I’m impressed!

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      • laurakelly2

        Well, I moved into my mom’s house after she passed away. Since there was no hurry to clear everything out to sell the place it has been an ongoing project for years.

        Even though I plan to be around for a few more years ( hopefully another decade or two) I want to leave as little for my sister to deal with as possible and only meaningful family heirlooms for my nieces. I do want to make sure that my nieces get stories with their heirlooms.

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  6. cteachr

    Great point of view! My daughter recently decided to get rid of most of the china I had saved for her. It was my mother’s first good china and I always loved it as a child. I used it for a few years in my first home and then packed it away for my daughter, thinking it would something to her someday. It is a real burden to leave such things for our children or anyone else, isn’t it? You are right, we only keep these objects for ourselves.

    The china has been given away by now. It might have had some monetary value since it is so old, but she couldn’t be bothered to sell it. I just hope my daughter isn’t feeling bad that she disposed for that old keepsake so easily.

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    • Anne Lene

      I’m sorry about your china. And like you I hope your daughter won’t feel bad about it down the line.

      It’s difficult to find that fine line on what to keep and what not to keep, when it comes to keepsakes.

      It’s easy to disregard the items, toss them and then regret it later. Then it’s just as easy to put too much importance on the items and end up in a house full of everybody’s stuff but your own.

      I’ve had a family member do this and she ended up feeling like she was living in everybody else’s life/stuff and not living in her own, and that’s not exactly good either!

      I think I’ve found a good balance on what things I keep from family members that have passed, I keep inherited things that are really important to me and that makes my heart sing.

      Having realised that there won’t really be any family members to leave my stuff to, it’s going to be easier to declutter going forward and only keep the things that I will have use for and want to keep for me. I won’t really need to think about having to keep things to pass it on…

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      • cteachr

        Thanks for your reply. My daughter is notorious for keeping the most ridiculous things, like shopping bags. I am glad she is finally realizing it’s just stuff. I am not upset at all that she wants to reduce the amount of momentos she has held on to. She is now living in her own so it’s her time to make a life filled with her most precious objects of sentimentality.

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    • Anne Lene

      Thanks, great idea! I’ve been pretty good at doing this on the photos already in albums. But I’m not quite sure how easy it will be to keep this info when I start scanning them, I’ll have to think about how I can add that info to the scanned files. Hmmmmmm….

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  7. Julie Buhite

    Several months ago, before returning to live in the States, I simplified my photos. It wasn’t easy. I felt that I was committing mortal sins the whole time. While simplifying, I worked to keep the photos that made me smile on the inside. A short time later, I went through another round or two of photo simplifying. It felt less sinful after the first run, but still… During the process I gave some photos away and threw away the rest. I still have photo-trashing guilt, but the weight on my soul is much lighter. I really like what you write about and your style -= as well as your focus on minimalism. Such a wonderful endeavor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anne Lene

      Yes, that dreaded “photo-trashing” guilt! I know it well 😉 But, you know.. we just can’t keep everything, and especially photos that gives no meaning to us. I still have way to many photos, but I know that when I start my fall photo scanning and declutter project, I will ONLY keep photos that put a smile on my face (or inside, like you), in small albums. All the other ones (that I still want to keep) will be scanned, then at least I still have them 😉 And like you , I think the weight on my soul will be way lighter, when this job is done.

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  8. Pingback: A little bit of this, a little bit of that | Minimalist Sometimes
  9. gallivance.net

    Anne, like you, we don’t have kids. We’ve been taking photos a long time, and at this point, we have one photo album. Your post rings true for us because we went through the same thought process. Everyone knows the special photos, and the rest can be scanned and tossed. Why it’s what all mature minimalists do … at least I hope. ~James

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