Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Monday, October 1, 2012

Deep declutter

I just spent hours quickly looking through a life time of greeting cards
 that goes back about 50 years.

  I feel drained.

Sorting and discarding is part of my deep de-clutter process for this fall.   We have the greeting card collection my mother-in-law left behind (she died in 1997), and I have avoided taking action on this for a long time.

She was a person of very moderate means.  Her apartment was her castle - it resembled a gift shop more than a home, but everything was perfectly arranged, orderly, clean, and loved.  And she loved greeting cards - she saved every one given to her.  Because they meant so much to her I was unwilling to discard them after she died.  But the downsizing process can be brutal - we haven't even gotten down to shedding the stuff we care about yet ...  much less holding on to the things that she cared about.

Today I tackled that large box of cards.

It has made me sad in unexpected ways.

Discarding the box without opening it would have been the easier path.  I didn't do that.  I examined every card.  It was fun to see the progression of my husband's signature (and my childrens' signatures) as they matured.  Most cards did not have dates so there was no way to determine age except through the immaturity of the signature, and the classic look of the cards.

I did find some cards that had notes in side - I kept those.   Most of her cards were from family.  There were, however, a few affectionate looking cards signed Steve, and then others signed "J."  She was divorced from the time my husband was 7 or 8. There was nothing beyond the signature from Steve or "J" (and that was how it was signed - with quotes), but they are part of a life long gone and the details were known only to her.

And so I kept a few with personal notes that reflected some history.  The others are gone.  Kind of sad. But I content myself with the thought that most of those cards were her memories - not ours.  I have kept a small sampling of her cards with respect for the history represented in some of them.

Interestingly, I followed in her path as a newly wed in keeping greeting cards.  So, yes, I have a large number as well.   The review is ahead of me.  I'll will keep enough to remember, but most will be discarded as well.  Maybe 30 years from now my own children will be looking and deciding what to do with mom's greeting cards.

My advice?  Chuck the cards - keep the photo albums!  (*sigh* another big project ahead - a good snowy day activity.)

Do you save greeting cards?


  1. I saved a few from my mother. I wanted an example of her handwriting and still chuckle that she signed cards and letters to me - Your loving Mother, and her full name with first, middle and last name.

    She also always referred to my father, when talking to others, as Mr. _______ All very Jane Austin.

    1. A different genration for sure. It is amazing how different we are from our parents.

  2. Hubs and I both have a few from our childhood...those are collectibles now. If you have some and don't want them you could package them in half dozens and sell them on EBay...really.

    1. I know that probably would work, but when I am in a declutter mode ... it is almost like a fever. Once the decision is made, the item in question is lucky if it makes it into the "charity" stack - rather than the "trash" stack. I want the item gone! Gone, gone, gone.

      No ... no eBay for me.

  3. This is quite a task, and I'm sure it took some discipline to actual go through them and make decisions on which to discard and which precious one to keep. Fun day...tough day!

  4. I used too, but no longer do. I do save all my thanks you notes though in a basket that I keep out and read them every so often.

  5. Sifting through a loved one's memories is so bittersweet. I remember going through my beloved Aunt Molly's treasures and finding that she had loving friendships and some lost loves in her life that were hers alone -- and it was lovely to know. We also discovered some family photos that filled in some major gaps for us. So sifting through her memory boxes -- something we had never done when she was alive -- was healing and enlightening.

  6. I do save the best cards I receive. I have a binful! I kjnow, some day, I will have to go thru them all and pitch, but I love them. Many are homemade cards, so they feel like art to me.


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