How many boxes of photographs do you have stashed around the house? I know, I know, you have visions of your family sitting around with a big bowl of popcorn, laughing together as you create adorable keepsake scrapbooks. You and your husband tell captivating tales of each picture, relating to your children the hardships and triumph of your pioneering family…
Oh, wait… Whose family are we talking about here???
Many of the photographs that we have are duplicates (we were going to send the extra pictures to the grandparents, but never got around to it), unidentifiable (even by Aunt Grace, the family historian), unclear (prior to digital technology, any movement caused blurring) or damaged (you can’t keep printed pictures in a sweltering attic or damp basement without consequences).
But we still feel like we MUST keep each and every one. Why?
Well, here are five of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things that will happen if you throw away photos:
1. You’ll feel guilty. This is why we hang on to most clutter. And since you already feel guilty about so many other things, tossing bad photos just may not be that big a deal.
2. Your [aunt, ex sister-in-law, second cousin twice-removed] will never speak to you again. For some reason we put a lot of stock into not upsetting some distant relative who’s always upset with us all the time anyway. If you think that their peace of mind is connected with hanging on to photographs, ship the box to them!
3. Child Protective Services will be called in. Throwing away baby pictures is NOT child abuse! After all, must you really hang on to the 75 “charm size” copies of the same pose that came with your son’s third grade school picture package in order to prove you’re a good mom? Will keeping every out-of-focus, two-headed baby picture (because she moved just as you snapped the shutter) improve your relationship with your daughter over time?
4. You’ll forget important people and events. Actually, you won’t. Pictures are only one way you’ve captured special memories. Songs and sounds, smells and textures, expressions on the faces around you all have the power to bring back memories of precious people and special moments in our lives.
5. You won’t have anything to worry about anymore. You’ve been berating yourself for years on a routine basis about how “someday” you need to organize all these pictures. Chances are that taking care of the photos is just one small worry in your rotation of things that cause you anxiety. If you finally take action, (by sending photos to family, tossing the ones that don’t make sense to keep or finally filling those albums you bought however many years ago) you’ll quickly find some other worry to take its place.
Please understand, I’m not advocating that you toss every single photograph in your house. But rather than live in vague fear of what might happen if you throw away photos, identify what that awful consequence is and see if you can live with it. Decluttering that anxiety is one of the best things you can do for yourself!
What terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing are YOU afraid will happen if you throw away photographs? Share with us in the comments!