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Lisa Miller

September 8, 2007

Culling keepsakes to move on

I was cleaning out closets and drawers, in search of items for this weekend’s Grand & Glorious Garage Sale. Allie’s nursery school needed donations, and I was sure I could come up with plenty of things we no longer needed and didn’t want.

Everyone has the things they have to save. Knickknacks, fix-it projects, collections; clothes they might wear, dusty CDs or record albums saved for one song, books they loved.

My husband and I are not knickknack people. We share a small house and a low tolerance for clutter. We don’t collect anything or enjoy fixer-uppers; we’ve never bought anything on eBay.

But I have a few boxes. Childhood things, letters and cards, wedding mementos, ticket stubs and playbills and programs, small objects that make up a life.

Allie was excited to help with the cleaning project. We started with the toy box in the family room, and I was thrilled when she decided she no longer wanted the orange Boohbah that dances and makes strange sounds when you squeeze its hand or poke its foot.

But then she started taking things out of the garage sale box faster than I could put them in; at one point, she spirited a paperback copy of "Stellaluna" upstairs to her room, despite my repeated reassurances that we had two identical copies, and the other one was tucked securely on her bookshelf.

In her bedroom, she tore through the bags and boxes I’d taken out of her closet until the floor was strewn with piles of toys and clothes. Then she sat in the middle of the room and examined the items in her wake.

Some things were easy to give away: stranger-clothes with the tags still on, too small or too frilly or too scratchy; never worn, no memories and no regrets.

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Lisa Miller

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