A Hummel figurine that belonged to my mother

hummel figurine
A Hummel figurine that belonged to my mother

A friend, Annegret, and I were talking on Twitter about memories and our belongings, and it reminded me of a story.

Thirty years ago I had a friend named Kathy. She was such a happy person. She had two rambunctious nephews. One day they came over to visit while she was unpacking some very old and precious Christmas ornaments that belonged to her grandmother. Kathy and her grandmother had a special bond. I had the pleasure of meeting her one summer when I visited her family in Atwater, Minnesota.

Kathy's nephews, who were maybe 8 and 10 years old at the time, were admiring the ornaments, and she said, “Here, why don’t you choose some to keep?!”

I remember feeling shocked. Giving some very old and irreplaceable heirlooms to two little boys? How insane!

I'm sentimental and like to keep things that are dear, nearby. The idea of giving such special things to children who, God forbid, could destroy them, seemed crazy. Annegret and I agreed—our things have meaning for us and are symbols of our thoughts and feelings.

But Kathy taught me something interesting that I've thought about for a long time.

She has always been a very secure and happy person. She is kind and generous and full of love and loves to share all she has. All of her happiness and feelings of security reside in her head and her heart, so she doesn’t really need physical possessions as symbols of people or memories. Her happiness is self contained. Her feelings for her grandmother were part of her, so she didn’t need the outward material things to remind her. Giving the ornaments to her nephews gave her joy, and in turn, her nephews learned a firsthand lesson about love, trust and generosity.

I think I’ve always been a less secure person. It comforts me to me to keep things as reminders of people, places or memories. So I have a lot of external reminders. Another friend has always lived by the other extreme of, "if in doubt, throw it out." As I've grown older, I've found I'm ready to let go of more and more. I haven't reached the same level as Kathy, but I'm working on it.

Thanks to Verizon for the opportunity to use great technology, including the Samsung Galaxy S7 camera.


  1. Hi Terri,

    Your blog posts are always thought provoking, and this one is no exception!

    I agree that one meaning that giving away a prized possession has is that the giver is secure in his or her happiness and love for the one who gave it to them.

    Another meaning it has for me is whether I'm willing to truly see it as a gift, with no strings attached. For example, I inherited some limited edition prints that are valuable for both sentimental and monetary reasons. Before giving one away as a gift, I ask myself, "Will I be upset if the receiver throws it out?" If I would be, I don't feel comfortable giving it away. If I feel that it is theirs to decide because it was gifted by me and now is theirs, then I feel free to do it. So I try to predict my reaction to the "worst case scenario," since I don't want to set myself up and be annoyed with a friend or relative for what is rightfully theirs.

    Thanks again for another excellent post!

    1. Dear Linda,
      I'm so grateful to have you as a real-life friend, and appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
      I related to your questions about giving things away without regret. I think my tendency was to always over analyze. But one day as I was thinking about having four floors packed with things, I considered what it would be like for our kids to have to clear it all away and freaked out a little. All the things I'm keeping will have almost no meaning for them. So I'm really trying to give things away and donate to charity. Still, I've barely made a dent!
      I hope someday to be able to purge it all without regret!
      Thank you again! ((HUGS)) Terri

  2. Anonymous11:20 PM

    Dear Terri, thank you very much for mentioning me in your post. What I have learned is that the older I become the more I appreciate my memories.


    1. Annegret, thank you for being such a great friend. We've shared so many conversations, I really feel as though I know you.

      I, too, appreciate my memories, and hope I can let go of the of the physical representations and learn to cherish the good thoughts!

      Warm ((hugs)) Terri


Post a Comment


i'm a graphic designer who loves words. - terri nakamura