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.