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  • Writer's picturejondab


Memorabilia are the reminders we keep of things that we feel are worth remembering. These might be objects like a figurine or a teacup, letters, pictures, or programs from a memorable evening.

How do we choose what to keep and what to let go?

Ask yourself, “Why do I want to keep these items?” I have seen clients who have held on to schoolwork with failing grades and snarky comments. I have seen people keep break-up letters from someone they thought they loved. Then there is the jewelry box from grandma that they never liked (the box – not grandma).

Consider letting go of anything that makes you feel sad or guilty. You have learned from these items, now let them go.

Only keep items that bring you joy when you look at them.

Keep items that tell your story. Most of us have lived through different stages of our life. Keeping some items that remind us of our life story is a tool to help us remember and to share our story with others.

Set limits on how much you keep. Yes, remember that wonderful trip you took to Italy. But you can limit the pictures and items to the ones that really invoke a strong memory. You can let go of most of the pictures of the interiors of churches that you can’t really remember why you took the shot in the first place. A few items from your grandmother’s house are a nice remembrance. A whole shelf full may be too much. How much space do you want to devote to storing the memorabilia which represents your past? What is reasonable for you now?

How much we want to keep of some things changes as time goes by. I make it a habit to revisit my stored (as opposed to items that are always out on display) memorabilia at least once a year. Why keep the stuff if you never look at it? Every year I seem to let a little bit more go.

When my husband died, I kept every love note, every condolence card, every picture for several years. As time went on, I started to let things go. The space of time allowed me to see what was the most precious. The same concept holds for pictures taken on trips with my children when they were young. At some point when reviewing the pictures, I had to ask myself why I was keeping the picture of the bear taken at the zoo? Why was I keeping near duplicates?

Schedule a time to go through your memorabilia. Don’t feel guilty if it is not all nicely catalogued and in scrapbooks. Most of my pictures are loosely grouped either in a bag with some other items from a trip or in a plastic shoe box. I enjoy them just the same as the ones I have put into scrapbooks. These memories are for me. More recently as I have gone through some of the older pictures that I am still keeping, I do take a minute to write a note on the back saying who is in the picture and the year or event. Do what makes you feel happy and then you can put them back away for another time.

If you want help or just some accountability in working through a project, join Diane Quintana and me on our Clear Space For You clutter support group.

Jonda S. Beattie, Professional Organizer owner of Time Space Organization, and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize. She is based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, author of four books as well as a retired special education teacher she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients tackle the toughest organizational issues. Jonda does hands on organizing, virtual organizing. For more of Jonda’s tips connect with her on Facebook.

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Julie Bestry
Julie Bestry
Feb 24, 2022

I used to wonder why people kept "negative" memorabilia, the things that represent bad memories. For some, I think it's a way of reminding themselves how much stronger they are now, how others can not longer hurt them. But for many people, those Dear John letters and other awful things are kept because the idea of letting them go somehow makes people feel like giving up the resentment (represented by keeping them) is somehow tantamount to letting the bad guys off the hook. I get it, but it reminds me of that great quote, "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die." As for positive memorabilia, I think we are all slow to recognize what…


Janet Barclay
Janet Barclay
Feb 22, 2022

My parents were keepers so not only was I influenced by them to also be a keeper, but I brought home many of the things they'd kept after they passed on. However, like you, "Every year I seem to let a little bit more go."


Linda Samuels
Linda Samuels
Feb 21, 2022

It's so well-timed that you're writing about memorabilia this week. This past weekend, we visited my husband's family. He brought his grandmother's photo album to look through with his siblings. It was incredible to take a walk down memory lane. I hadn't seen that album in over 10 years. My sister-in-law shared her albums too and I saw photos of my husband as a young boy I never saw before. Amazing! I was so appreciative of the time Steve's grandmother and his sister took to make these albums. They told a story and preserved history in a way that was digestible, which is your point.

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