Mary holding a pile of firework fluff

Failed Lecture on Hoarding

“If you don’t use it or love it, don’t keep it.” Words from the wise. I’m not very good at following that rule, but I do try, and I’ve been trying to teach my kids the same thing. Particularly as we’ve been cleaning out closets this week and trying to get our apartment organized. The problem is, Mary loves everything.

Still, I thought the lesson was beginning to stick — until she started hoarding handfuls of firework fluff tonight. You know those kiddie fireworks that shoot out confetti? At some point Mary asked me to hold the wad of streamers she’d collected. D’oh. But she was running around, and I was chatting with friends, so I figured I’d save that discussion for later.

So, just after we’d pulled into our driveway, I opened my hand to show Mary the fluff, and opened my mouth to say something. But before I had the chance, she threw her arms around me and said, “It’s a gift to you, Mom!”

It took me a moment to reformulate my lecture: “Okay, but what am I supposed to do with it?”

With a kiss on my cheek, she whispered in my ear, “Accept it.”

Any tips on teaching your kids that stuff is just stuff?


  1. velda

    She is a cutie. How in the world am I supposed to throw out her beloved firework fluff now? So I put it in a box of confetti they’d scattered last year for my birthday.


  2. David Crandall

    HA HA!!! The fact that you have a box of confetti still is probably a sign of where she gets it from. 😉

    I have had such a hard time with “stuff” and getting rid of it. My wife is a great balance; she’ll get a birthday card in the mail, read it, smile, and then (gasp) throw it away! Very efficient and clean. I still have birthday cards from my…well, let’s just say a long time ago.

    You could always take a picture of the confetti and then set the real stuff free (i.e. trash it). Then you get to keep the memory without taking up space.

    And yes, cute picture!!!


  3. velda

    I know, David! Oh, I am so bad about this stuff. But I figured a few pieces of confetti in an origami box my son made me for the same occasion wouldn’t be TOO much. I am very thankful for cameras though, digital cameras whose pictures take up very little space, because it does make letting go of things that much easier.


  4. Lonnie Olson

    That quote sounds nice, but goes horribly wrong, see “Hoarders”, when one tends to love too much. 🙂

    I tend to go by the words of Pee-wee Herman. “Take a picture, it’ll last longer”.
    If you use it, keep it.
    If you love it, take a picture.
    Else, toss it.
    Pictures are much easier to manage than things. A shoebox or two, or even better, digital.

    Since your love is in your brain/heart, not in the item itself, all you need is a reminder of that. Photos accomplish this quite well while maintaining relatively small footprints.


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