My Great Great Grandfather had a monkey, which makes it really hard for me to get rid of my stuff.

As you know we are in full decluttering mode in the Fearse cave. So far this has been mainly driven by the 2-4-1 challenge and a desire to keep ahead of ourselves just in case. I think it is now time to add a bit of focus, as we’ve got rid of a lot of the surface clutter and are digging much deeper now. We all know what lies in those lower levels of junk…the dreaded sentimental junk. Big Poppa has already spoken about his findings in his man cave. In some ways it is worse for him as many of the sentimental papers from his childhood have been laminated. Mine have simply deteriorated over the years until each fold is torn and the print has faded. This makes it easier.

In our storeroom I have a large moving box full of letters and diaries. I actually made a little headway with this recently by throwing away large piles of letters from old friends that didn’t mean much anymore. While reading letters from another old friend I realised that these were more records of her life than things of value to me, so I got back in contact and asked if she would be receptive to me returning them. She was and I did, but I haven’t heard from her since.  I sometimes wonder if they were a bit much for her, as she wasn’t always at her happiest when she was writing those letters to me.

As a child I was as voracious a letter writer as I was (and still am) a reader. I had many penpals over the years from other parts of Australia, all across the USA and even from India. I still have the majority of those letters, and of course I haven’t read them for years. I have more than a sentimental attachment to letters and diaries. When writing them I secretly thought maybe one day I’d be famous and they’d be important. As I grow older and this looks a little less likely I’m wondering if maybe I could manage to part with just some of these things.

Then again…recently my Mum discovered the letters of her Great Grandfather in the Tasmanian historical archives. It turns out that he was close friends with one of the fathers of Australian Federation and although her Great Grandfather wasn’t a particularly important man his friend was well known enough to justify keeping all his correspondence. It was fascinating to read about this man who we would otherwise know nothing. We have photos and we have facts, but how often do you get to learn of the intricacies of your ancestors personalities without a whole lot of guesswork? It turns out he had a great sense of humour, a little distain for his younger brother who was a bit useless and he had a pet monkey.

An excerpt from the letters of my Great Great Grandfather.

An excerpt from one of the letters of my Great Great Grandfather.

Maybe someone I’ve written to will be well-known enough one day to justify having their documents maintained in acid free, light free archival solitude. Honestly, I’d be quite horrified if it were the case. I would hate for my private writing, meant for an audience of one, to become public. There’s no control over that. To save someone else in the far, far future from having to make decisions about what paper work of mine matters and what doesn’t (it all doesn’t) I have to make headway with this junk.

I’ve been doing more reading and this entry has inspired us to set out some goals. This is what we hope to achieve with our decluttering:

We:

  1. Want to be able to find things when we are looking for them. Everything has a home.
  2. Want the house to be tidier and easier to clean.
  3. Want the house to feel calm instead of chaotic.
  4. Want to be able to part with some of the sentimental stuff that has no real purpose.
  5. Want to achieve these things by January 1st 2014.

I hope you’ll help keep us on track,

Mama xox

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6 thoughts on “My Great Great Grandfather had a monkey, which makes it really hard for me to get rid of my stuff.

  1. I was at a friends many years ago and her brother was there looking at some old things belonging to their grandfather. There were some old documents, tickets etc. We had a discussion about the fascinating nature of those things…. and the fact that he had remembered to keep them and treasure them. Things that if we found them in a pile of our own stuff we would be likely to turf straight in the bin.

    Like you I have a massive pile of papers, letters, cards, tickets…stuff. That I keep meaning to bite the bullet and get rid of. There is a part of me that wonders, especially now that I am expecting what my grand or great grandchildren might make down the track of finding some of my old bits and pieces. I think that little grand and great grand Fearses would be fascinated.

    I don’t think everything needs to be kept but I think I am going to choose a few of the things that represent important parts of life or letters that have a lot of meaning behind them and keep them in a nice box, stored in case anyone wants to see them later… to find out a little more about their own heritage.

  2. Oh this one is so topical to me at the moment! We’ve embraced #reducemonth for April and have been steadily going through our clutter and preparing for a big garage sale. The other night I came to the box (okay, I confess – boxes) of my old journals, diaries and penpal letters. I’m agonising over what to do with them all. I think I need to blog about this … for now I’m definitely keeping the journals, still undecided on the yearly diaries and scanning the most important letters into my DropBox account.

  3. I agree this is a difficult challenge – I also have old diaries etc and although I wouldn’t really want ANYONE to real them, i also don’t like the idea of getting rid of them. To be honest it is all such teenage twaddle in there I don’t think I could properly read them and it is not worth scanning. But could i actually throw them away? I am currently going through my wardrobe getting rid of stuff there and then will have to have a proper think about these boxes of memories x

  4. Pingback: Old goals, new goals (same goals?) | The Fearse Family

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