This isn't a review. I haven't read the book. And I don't plan to.
From what I've heard about this book, it tells you to get rid of things. (Surprise, surprise.) Like, a lot of things. Like maybe even a dish rack. (You can put your dishes outside on the patio to dry!)
Now, I don't want to criticize this book in particular, especially since I haven't read it. But its enormous popularity tells you something about our culture. A lot of us (especially us moms) are becoming preoccupied with decluttering and getting rid of things. Things, things, things! We Americans are so obsessed with things! Get rid of everything!
I mean, yeah, go ahead and throw away the weird art project that your kid never even enjoyed. Give away the clothes you never wear. Good for you. I love getting rid of stuff I genuinely don't care about.
But the decluttering frenzy seems to be extending even to things that are a little more important, like books and heirlooms. People talk about "letting go," and allowing your peace to come from the inside.
Over the last couple years as I've been settling down, I've been feeling a cultural pressure to just get rid of it. I've been encouraged to be ruthless when I'm organizing. I've heard all kinds of rules, like, "If you haven't used it in the last year, get rid of it!" and "Only keep one shoebox of sentimental items."
Now, I know this kind of thing is making a lot of people happy, and I think that's great. If you honestly look into your heart and think that you'll get a lot of peace from giving away your grandmother's jewelry box, then I think you should do that.
But I'm not going to.
I like my stuff and I'm keeping it.
Now, I know that possessions don't create happiness where it doesn't exist. But I think some possessions can actually add to happiness
I have a lot of things that are special to me. I love my books. Yeah, I get rid of a few that I don't like every once in a while, but my dream is to have great books overflowing in every room of my house. (My husband is somewhat less interested in that dream.) In my home growing up, there were plenty of shelves full of books that I could peruse if I ever needed reading inspiration, and I want my kids to have that.
And then there are things that can't be replaced. Handmade things from my mothers-in-law. A doll I inherited from my grandmother. A carved wooden giraffe my parents brought back from Africa.
My mother-in-law gave my daughter a cross-stitched baby blanket that she'd worked on for months. It's completely impractical since we can never use it as a blanket, but I would never dream of giving it away.
When I was growing up, I loved my grandmother's decorations, particularly a certain doll with a crocheted dress. When she passed away and my family was deciding what to do with her possessions, I immediately asked for that doll, and I was overjoyed when it was given to me.
My parents have been in Africa for almost a year and a half as missionaries for our church. They sacrificed a lot to be there, but I had to sacrifice too because it meant that my mom didn't get to be with me when my first baby was born. My parents gave me an incredible gift by coming all the way from Africa to visit a few days later so they could help with the baby.
They gave us a wooden souvenir giraffe from Africa which will always remind me of that special time that they came to help with my daughter and give me their support. My grandmother's doll will always remind me of the happy days I spent at my grandparents' house before they got sick. And who knows what wonderful memories will be tied up in my daughter's baby blanket?
People say that you don't need things because you have the memory, and that's what really matters. But the truth is, memory fades. My memories from the time just after my daughter was born are already getting fuzzy just a few months later. My grandparents passed away when I was fairly young and I didn't get the chance to know them very well. Memories from childhood often fade, and my daughter will forget so many things from when she was young.
Yes, things are just things, but they help us remember. I don't want to fill my house with useless trash; I want to fill it with beautiful things that evoke warm memories from happy times.
To me, that's a lot more special than an empty closet.