Three+Me: Sentimentality vs. the space it takes up

Couch. Coffee table. Fog machine. Disco lights.

If you took a tour of our apartment’s living room recently, these are some of the things you’d have seen.

Some things deserve their own cardboard box, even in a crowded basement.
Originally published on on June 16, 2017

For months, before and after our wedding in May, we had boxes (and boxes, and boxes) of decorations taking up residence alongside the bookshelves and rocking chair.

Until last weekend, when we buckled down and put it all away.*

*Translation: shoved it all downstairs.

Now we finally have our living room back – at the expense of our basement. Our basement already has a ton of stuff, mostly still in cardboard boxes, awaiting more refined storage options once we buy a house.

I’m always telling my husband we have too much stuff, and need to get rid of it. We don’t need it all, I say. I don’t actually do much about it, but I say it.

One thing we figured we can do to cut down on our “stuff” is, at the very least, not add to it. So we’re gonna try to not give each other gifts on holidays. Instead of getting him a tchotchke or gadget he won’t use, or him getting me jewelry that’ll just sit on my dresser, we’ll do things together instead.

And that makes sense, in my mind. I’d rather take a trip or go out for an activity than get another coffee mug (though I do love me a cute coffee mug).

This Sunday, the first holiday to put this decision to the test, is Father’s Day.

And I want to live up to our plan. I want to do something fun with my husband and stepkids as a family, instead of racking my brain for a cute craftsy project the kids can make for their dad, that we don’t have display space for, and that’ll eventually end up in another cardboard box somewhere.

I’m not as sentimental as I used to be. I’m usually willing to toss something if it’s taking up too much space, regardless of who gave it to me or what it may have signified at some point in the past.

But I’m realizing, maybe there’s something to be said for those cute craftsy projects, even the stuff that’s destined for a cardboard box. Because as much as memories made together are important (and I still have plans to do something fun together to make those memories this Father’s Day weekend), sometimes the little craft things are important, too.

They capture a moment in time, I think. Especially when the kids are young (my stepson is 10 and my stepdaughter is 6), they put a personal touch on those tchotchkes, that in a few years they probably won’t be willing to do. And we’ll look back on the little illegible handwriting, or the big-eyed drawing, as a touchstone to a time when the kids were still shorter than me (which won’t be much longer, at the rate they’re growing!).

Not to mention, my husband does run on the sentimental side. He has dubbed himself A Keeper Of Things, with a little mason jar from each year, full of bracelets and clay creatures that his daughter gave him; his desk at home is bedecked with Hot Wheels cars and Lego creations from his son; and the edge of his computer monitor is lined with hot-pink sticky notes I’ve left for him over the years.

To him, the little craftsy things are worth keeping. So I guess they’re worth giving.

As long as the stepkids are up for playing ninja in the morning before their dad wakes up, sneaking around to quietly whip up a little surprise for him, I’ll keep coming up with projects for them to give him.

Despite all the things we need to purge from the basement boxes, I guess we’ll always save some room for the sentimental stuff.

Originally published at on June 17, 2017.

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