I was thinking about that the other day as I was going through drawers and closets to find things for one of the local charities that is sending its collection truck around soon. I am not a pack rat by any means. We have small closets, no basement, and little storage space, so I have to be selective in what I keep. I have a hard and fast rule when it comes to clothes: If I haven’t worn something in two years, it needs to go.
Some things, however, I find I just can’t part with. For example, I have this fur jacket that was my mother’s. It’s made of mouton lamb, totally out of fashion and has been for decades. It used to be a full-length coat when my mother purchased it in the ’40’s during the War. She was a little Kentucky girl who had eloped with a New York city boy, a dashing lieutenant she had met at a USO dance in Dayton, Ohio. A few weeks later my dad was shipped off to the South Pacific and his parents sent for his new bride. She had never been to New York City before, and my grandparents had never had a daughter, so they couldn’t wait to meet her and take her shopping. My mother had saved her money from her job as a secretary and bought the coat at Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue. She felt like a million bucks in that coat. When I was in high school, she had the coat made into a jacket so I could wear it over my formals when I went to Cotillion. I felt like a million bucks in it, too.
That old coat has hung in my closet for years, taking up valuable space. It has broken my hard and fast rule twenty times over. Yet, I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. Think I’ll leave that task for my daughter after my roll is called up yonder.
I also have a pastry blender that was my mother’s. The red paint’s nearly worn off the handle and the tines are bent and crooked. I have a perfectly good newer one, but I’d rather use that old one because I remember my mother using it all the time when she made pie crusts and biscuits. She was amazing at both and never needed a recipe. With every pass I make through the flour and shortening with that old pastry blender, I’m infusing my cobbler, or pie, or biscuits with memories. They taste better that way.
We all have our favorite things we find it hard to part with, things that other people would look at and wonder why we hang onto. That’s what has kept me from throwing out a threadbare pair of jeans of my husband’s or a T-shirt he has worn in every vacation picture for the past fifteen years. It’s not my call. What are the things you treasure?