Do We Really Need to Keep That?

Do We Really Need to Keep That?

I was raised by the generation that survived the depression.  Both of my parents had learned, and continued to live by the old adage: make-do or do-without. They rarely threw anything away, in fact our family was reducing, reusing, and repurposing way ahead of today’s recycling game. 

When you’d paid good money for something that happened to break, or outlive it’s usefulness, or (heaven forbid) wear out, my parents’ generation knew there was a good chance you could fix it, or – better yet – make it into something else.

Old magazines were craftily folded and spray painted to become Christmas choir boys;

newspapers not only lined shelves and bird cages, but became papier mache strips; bleach bottles became piggy banks.

I once talked my mom into buying me a rather spendy (at the time) clear plastic raincoat, just like the one my best friend had. Unfortunately, polymers in the 60s not being what they are today, my beautiful mod raincoat began to crack.  Frugal mom to the rescue!  She took black electricians tape, and covered not only the cracks, but artfully lined the seams, cuffs and pockets, giving my already cool outerwear it’s own individuality, and style!

Whatever happened to all of those magical creations, I can’t quite recall… probably eventually ended up in a landfill I suppose.  Which is too bad, not only for the environment, but because the coat pictured above is from a current designer’s uber spendy collection, and I swear the one artfully altered by my own mother looked just like that!

I may have carried some of my parents’ spendthrift tendencies into my own adult life… which prompts Downtown Dad to ask, in an oh-so respectful and I assume rhetorical manner, “do we really need to keep that?” I will confess that on the off chance I may need them someday, I do store a lot of things in our basement, and by things I mean items that were made or purchased, and now for one reason or another aren’t currently being used. This does NOT mean that those items are useLESS!

For example, along with admitted trash, like the two fried computer cases, three monitors, and stray keyboards; and items such as boxes of important things like macrame books, unfinished needlework projects, and mugs from the 2005 Renaissance Faire; there hangs in the rafters a group of items with which I will not part…

every costume my kids wore in 6 years of theatre!  

I do understand that there is little to no chance I will ever find a use for a two-tailed, orange fur Cowardly Lion costume that still retains the smell of 10 August performances; or a preteen lady-in-waiting dress; or a High School Musical Wildcats track suit – even if it has been to Scotland. I have, however, used quite a few of the 200 large safety pins that festooned a punk crow costume.  And best of all, when a small cast in our local children’s theatre production of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves afforded my son the chance for 2nd billing as not one but all 40 of the thieves, we became the proud owners of a 4′ tall, hand-painted, round canvas, um ….cylinder.  That cylinder, with the proper top rigging, and just the right kind of bulb, is destined for another starring role, as a floor lamp in our family room!  

Boom! Why, yes, as a matter of fact we do need to keep that!

Be honest, what strange things are you not willing to part with?  And, for extra bonus points – what creative ways can you think of to use those things to give them a second life?


  • Posted October 19, 2011 8:16 am 0Likes
    by smalltownme

    Lala, you are my sister from another mother. It's not the stuff I keep that I regret, it's the stuff I don't have any more. My husband was a little shocked when I insisted on keeping the recently ripped bottom sheet, but it's a large chunk of useful flannel and I have plans for it already.I want to see that cylinder made into a lamp!

  • Posted October 21, 2011 12:41 pm 0Likes
    by Aunt Snow

    Yikes. Don't make me think about my basement and what's in it!I'm starting to think about decluttering, since my kitchen cabinets are a real mess. But I fear clutter is in my genes. My mom's house, when we sold it, was full of stuff.Some of those things have become heirlooms, actually. I rescued my Mom's old aluminum colander – you know, you know, the kind that have the holes in a star pattern? I have hers, which she probably bought in the 1950s. I also have one I bought, probably in the mid 1980s – and it's amazinghow much heavier hers is than mine.

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