Downsizing Part 4: Memorabilia, the Final Frontier
You’ve taken out the trash, the recycling, the toxic waste. You’ve portioned out the valuables to heirs, auction and consignment. You’ve gotten “real” with the clothing, the kitchen and the hobby supplies. The final step in our downsizing prep is memorabilia, and if you have truly accomplished the tasks set out in the previous three columns, you and your family might actually enjoy this part. First, gather every bit of memorabilia such as photographs, slides, old report cards, ticket stubs, winning science fair ribbon, birthday cards, old letters and anything else that qualifies from everywhere in the house and garage. Take a look at the total volume and think ahead to your new, smaller home. You will want to aim to reduce your memorabilia to what comfortably fits into the storage available to it in your new home, and that will vary from person to person. For most, the reduction of the total volume will be considerable. Set aside any completed photo albums. These can be boxed and stored or put into a bookcase and are not usually a problem. Also, if you have photos on discs or flash drives or camera cards, bag or box them to look at separately. Take the time to sort memorabilia into categories. Report cards and school related things should go into one pile. Separate photos from slides and negatives. Weed out the correspondence. Put all the trophies, medals, ribbons and awards certificates together. If you are lucky, one or more family members will be with you to help, to hear the stories that should be handed down with each item, and to share in the decision to preserve or to purge. Go through one category at a time. Your own school records and report cards are likely of no interest to anyone, even yourself. But if you are the holder of your children’s records of this type (or any of their memorabilia) be sure to offer it to them before tossing it. With the exception of diplomas and perhaps certain test scores like the SAT and GRE, you can probably toss old school stuff easily. I’ve had great luck lately with clients tackling photo collections, and I have to give credit to the confidence in digital photography that even older clients have. More and more people are comfortable letting go of negatives because they know scanners can make excellent reproductions of photos cheaply and conveniently. Often negatives make up a significant portion of a photo box. If you want to reduce your photo collection, divide them by subject (person or place) and offer them to the appropriate party. Group shots can be duplicated to give to more than one person if desired. You might be able to reread old correspondence once before letting it go, or may feel you are ready to part with it even without a final reading. If you are downsizing because of age and health issues, I would suggest destroying any journals or correspondence now that you wouldn’t want anyone to read. If you have dealt with all the loose memorabilia and reduced it to a neat box or two, you might have time and energy left to look at the photo albums. Are they in good shape or do they need to be revamped to better preserve their contents? You might also have a chance to check out the discs, drives and cards and make sure that all of your digital images are uploaded to the cloud and backed up to a single external hard drive, after which you can let the discs and cards go. After your move is a perfect time to organize your digital photographs. If you don’t know how to do this and want to learn, there are classes available or you might hire a tutor or work with a savvy friend. Organizing digital photos is a very time-consuming project but it is definitely worth it when you are able to put together creative photo books using online services like Shutterfly. As with printed photos, be sure to delete duplicates, blurry shots, unflattering shots and boring shots of landscapes and buildings. Only keep the best and enjoy!