It's time for me to sell my house and move on. So over the past few weeks, I have been going through several decades accumulation of my own Stuff, as well as various items of Stuff that belonged to my ancestors. Stuff is spelled with a capital S because at some point Stuff takes on a life of its own.
Okay, so what genealogist isn't a pack rat when it comes to their family history Stuff? We've all got those photos, letters, documents, artifacts - whatever it may be - all tucked away and treasured as if it were the Holy Grail.
I have boxes and boxes of family archive paper ephemera. What has amazed me in going through the remaining boxes of my own Stuff has been the additional family archive Stuff that I probably knew I had at one time, yet had forgotten about. At least two additional boxes of goodies have emerged. Sorting through all of this will probably be my project for next winter.
But my primary goal is to downsize, lighten my load, give myself some Freedom from the shackles of Stuff. I've been telling myself that the eventual goal is to downsize to what would fit in a two-bedroom apartment. It's kind of like starting over from scratch. By the time this weekend is over, I will have emptied my house of at least half of my Stuff. I already feel lighter.
During this process enters the moment of truth. Does some of the Stuff I've been hanging on to, moving, packing and storing for decades still have any purpose in my genealogical journey? In some cases, the answer was No. Hard as may be to believe, I have let go of several items that had belonged to my ancestors. Truth be told, they were junk. For thirty years, I had thought about restoration, but it never happened. And I knew that it wasn't going to happen. I let them go. And it was a much easier decision than I thought it would be. The items really served no function in my research. No other family members have interest in the items. The items had become a burden. They're gone.
It's not like I don't have boxes and boxes of photographs, letters, autograph books, Bibles that I will continue to curate for my own pleasure. I do. And I have no regrets over what I let go. Besides, I still have a LOT.
Open for Discussion:
- Have you let go of family artifacts? If so, did you have a clear conscience or live to regret it?
- Could you never dream of letting go of anything once owned by an ancestor?
- Do you believe that you can separate your research from physical items?
- Are you weighed down by Stuff you don't want to part with?
- Are those items really a treasure or just a bunch of junk?
- Have I committed the worst sin that could ever be committed by a family historian?
Please add your thoughts in the Comments section below.