It is still not too late to combine your final cleaning with
weeding through your possessions. Things you no longer need
because you already have so/too many of them — small
tablecloths, for example, or things that require too much of
an investment in their upkeep (handwash or dry-clean-only
clothing for children) or items that are physically outgrown -
- trousers, dresses, bikes, or mentally outgrown —
toys, books, can be passed along to friends, neighbors,
relatives or gemachs to enjoy.
Add to the give-away list gifts received that just aren't
your taste or size (and remember, of course, to remove the
gift card). Household furnishings that you've benefitted from
for years but that you are tiring of (what a rich generation
we live in!) should not be thrown away. Pass them along to
someone else who'll use those curtains, pictures or sofa
cover to add a new look to their own apartment.
My oldest daughter had a relatively expensive bookbag which
we bought her when she started high school. Now that she's
long graduated and the next daughter won't be going to high
school for a number of years, should we hold on to the
bookbag and let it occupy needed space? My opinion is that if
we think of others who could get use out of something that
we're not using, let them have it. And perhaps, in merit of
our generosity, when we need something, Hashem will arrange
for us to get it. Besides, styles do change and what an older
child was thrilled with, a younger child might disdain a few
years from now. As a mother of a nice size family with
limited space, my motto is, "Keep what you need and quickly
dispose of what you don't." [Ed. At the gemach, they
say: When in doubt - throw it out!]
The "Things that Have Seen Better Days" category, but which
you are hanging on to for sentimental reasons, can benefit
from an outsider's critical review. Sometimes, their eyes can
see more clearly that what's taking up room in your closets
is in pretty awful condition.
Mom once sewed me a baby quilt, combining squares from
Grandma's rose blanket, her own summer dress which she wore
during my childhood, and pieces from my wedding gown. A
number of my children warmed themselves with that baby quilt
and, you guessed it, the thing was starting to look
"Get rid of it," Mom advised.
"But it's got THREE GENERATIONS worth in it!" I pleaded.
Mom held up the quilt. "Here, take a picture," she said. So
now I've got a photo of Mom holding the quilt, and it sure
does take up less room.
A variation of this idea I've heard of is to write in a
notebook a description of the (worn and torn) item: size,
dimensions, color, design, material and from whom it was
received, and then toss out the item. The notebook takes up
far less room than the listed items.
The advantage of transferring time or space consuming
possessions from your house, aside from the chessed of
giving to others, is the extra room you'll have in your home
and the freedom from `extras' which clutter our lives.
Now, onto a more controversial topic: getting rid of our
children's treasures/trash. Of course, we're not going to
take Shevi's most beloved doll, but what about those tiny
pieces of plaything that always seem to be drifting into
every corner of the house? A mother gets awfully tired of
picking up those stray cards from various games time and
This year I finally gathered up all the cards and put them in
a giveaway bag. We probably haven't played with those cards
in years, but it seems like every week I'd be picking up a
few from the floor and stuffing them back into their box.
Be sure not to throw away toys in a punitive way, and don't
go too overboard, totally cleaning out every trinket and toy.
School projects from years back can be discreetly made to
disappear as well. If you're too tenderhearted to throw away
your child's very own artwork, well, you can always send it
to Grandma - or describe it in that notebook we mentioned
And when you get too many notebooks, you can eventually toss
them away, too.