I am currently on a decluttering spree.
Clutter is my nemesis. Psychologically, I speculate that it comes from being raised by parents (and a grandmothe, who shared our house) who lived through the Great Depression. Waste not, want not. Save it in case you need it later. It’s still good! Save that for “good wear.” When my grandmother died, I remember my mom finding drawers full of brand-new nightgowns and other things that my grandmother was saving “for good,” while wearing the same worn dresses for years. My mom scoffed at this, but when she moved, and then when she died, there were pickup truck loads of similar stuff — a filing cabinet mostly full of pads of scrap paper and used file folders, shampoo purchased 10 or more years previously at a great sale, drawers of fabric scraps, boxes of monogrammed glassware, canned goods and cake mixes long past their expiration date, closets full of clothes, boxes of old birthday cards and Christmas cards she had received, packing envelopes that could be reused.
My mother scoffed at and judged my grandmother for this behavior, and I scoffed at my mother, and I am now here to say I have continued the tradition. Much to my dismay and constant vigilence, things pile up. For me, the worst offenders are papers, magazines, and things people gave me (or, left to me when they died). I have gottten rid of several shoeboxes full of my mom’s costume jewerly, but how much remains that I think I will wear someday, with just the right outfit? I have a little music box, not my taste, by mom gave it to me and it says something about mothers and daughters inside. And don’t get me started on the papers: mail I need to deal with, old records that could be shredded, meeting notes that can’t seem to find a file folder, magazine articles and entire magazines that I plan to read, old photos.
One thing I saw recently that I could (should) give away is my mom’s Easter lamb cake mold. Every Easter, our family would have a big gathering — cousins, aunts, uncles — and my mother would make an Easter lamb pound cake. She would frost it, cover it with coconut shreds, and make a face on it with jelly beans. She sat it on a platter covered with green-tinted coconut and surrounded it with foil covered chocolate eggs. The ears tended to get drier than the rest, break off and my mom would reattach them with toothpicks. After my aunt’s little poodle, Snoopy, died, my mom would sometimes put a name tag “Snoopy” on the platter. Sick family humor, I know.
I loved that cake – so dense and rich with fluffy icing. I’ve got the recipe. But I don’t think I’ve made a lamb cake since my mom passed. I don’t celebrate Easter, but I think the next dinner party I host will have lamb cake for dessert. That cake mold might be clutter, but I am keeping it for a while longer.