WAIT - You can't get rid of that!

You Can’t Get Rid Of that! It was My ...

I’m sorting a closet full of craft supplies and pull out a framed art piece showcasing a cross stitch angel. The frame is dated and the cross stitch is clearly hiding from the wall. 

“Oh, that was my mom’s.” 

      “Great, are you going to hang it?”

“Probably not, I don’t know where I would put it.”

I agree (in my head) as this doesn’t really go with ANYTHING in her home, so I put it to the side. 

A few hours later I begin to take the donated items to my vehicle. “WAIT - You can’t donate that! That was my moms!”

Stunned because I thought we were under the same understanding that she didn’t like this piece and never intended to use it (aka. Hang it on the wall)

“Why can’t we donate it again?”, I inquire.

“Because she made it with her hands.” 


“So what. She made a lot of stuff with her hands, what makes this one different?”

“She will be SO MAD at me if I get rid of it.”


Upon further discovery, I realized that Mom had given said cross stitch angel to my client because she didn’t want it anymore, but apparently followed it up with a long drawn out story as to why it was so special. 

Ah, I love it when the truth starts to show itself. 

When we shift our belongings onto someone else, we also shift the weight and responsibility that comes with owning that item.  Whether clearly stated or somewhat perceived, we communicate the importance of the item and how it must never leave your possession. EVER. 

Repeat after me, a gift is not a life sentence. 

If you have something of this sort in your home, I want you to do something for me.

Take the item out of it’s hiding place, snap a photo and text your relative. 

“Hey ___, I’ve been cleaning out and moving some stuff around and I came across this ____.  I don’t have the room for it anymore, so before I let it go I wanted to offer it back to you.”

*exhale* Now see what happens.

Your relative may be defensive about why you want to let it go and come up with a barrage of stories as to the value of the piece. Let her finish, and then say, “I know it means a lot to you, would you like me to bring it by next week when I come over for dinner?”

If she indicates she doesn’t have the space for it, then politely remind her that you don’t either which is why you are cleaning out and organizing.  “Wouldn’t it be better to donate so someone who really loves it can use it?”

The emotional and psychological games that we play with ourselves and others must come to an end if we are ever to take control of our home and our possessions.  

Keep in mind - you do this too when you shift your memories onto your kids. Allow them to not want it as much as you did (or HOPED they would)

Jennifer Burnham