The Trouble With Tribbles: Why I’m Not a Collector Anymore

Two years ago, I sold my rather extensive Snow White Collection – and made a pretty penny off of it. That’s what all collectors hope will happen…someday…after they’re dead, but it’s not like I woke up one day and just decided to dump the whole thing… Okay, it was pretty much like that, but it was a process several years in the making.

In my former life, I was a self-loathing, albeit expert holder-onto-er. I had my reasons, which  I don’t recall, however, I’m also fairly practical, and definitely lazy, and all those things everywhere started to become a problem for me, a problem that kept on growing (like the those darn tribbles on Star Trek). Eventually, the practical me beat down the me that was always bringing crap home and decided it was time to declutter and simplify.

I started with the stack of boxes of miscellaneous paper that I had collected through many moves and several years. No matter where we moved, that stack would reappear in a corner like a kind of crazy conceptual art installation. That’s what I’d tell people, anyway.

Paper is the bane of my existence – okay, maybe just the cause of my husband’s frustration and hence, the cause of much of my anxiety. That’s what happens when you marry a “touch it once” guy. (To clarify, that’s a guy trained in the fundamental principles of productivity and time management…He’s also a “Do what I say and not what I do” guy, so, take that for what it’s worth…) At any rate, it drove him nuts to watch me move papers from one pile to another, and possibly another. He’d be pulling his hair out and hissing at me, but loudly, to JUST TOUCH THE DAMN THING ONCE! (I always wanted to ask if “saying it once” was a thing, but I never did!) The problem was, I could never decide what I should do. Keep him, toss him. Likely as not, I’d probably need him one day and there I’d be thinking, “Damn. Should have kept him. He’d come in handy right about now.”

While the Snow White collection wasn’t the first collection to go, it was the first one I sold without regret. There was a period in our married life when money became very dear; dearer than my childhood Barbie collection and an old license plate collection my dad bequeathed to me before he passed. And while I was grateful for the money they brought, I was sad to see them go because they were things that had brought me endless hours of joy, and also held fond memories for me of time spent with my dad in his old, greasy shop.

Something began to change for me, though, as I began to get rid of the stuff. I began to see things in a different way. I began to understand why I was a holder-onto-er. I realized the state of my house was simply a mirror of the state of my mind. My mind was cluttered with feelings. My house was cluttered with things.  I realized I kept things for other people, not myself. I realized that I was overwhelmed by having too many things and it caused me stress. I realized that you don’t have to have things to have memories; and that there are other ways to love, honor and remember times and people in life that don’t have to take up physical space. I realized that I didn’t need to keep things in order to show my love for the people in my life.

One of the greatest realizations came the day it dawned on me that my most prized collection of Snow White memorabilia had not been curated for me so much as it had for my mother, whom I loved.

It all began with a little wooden box.  She gave me this treasured box that she’d made as a girl and had painted with the characters from the “new” to her Disney movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I realized that Snow White reminded me of my mother and her life! I had never made that connection before. She was beautiful as a young woman, with dark wavy hair and big, brown eyes. She’d had an equally difficult and tragic life as the character, Snow White – until she married my father, who had provided a different and better life than she had known before. Prince Charming had saved her. Also like Snow White, my mother was a hard worker and spent her life taking care of other people, a sometimes thankless job at times. She took care of her alcoholic father, her mentally ill mother, her disabled sister, just to name a few. And while I’m not sure she would see in her story the same happily ever after ending, I did. In a weird way, collecting all those things was an important way to remember.

I was amazed that when I was emotionally ready to let go of my collection, someone magically appeared who wanted it. A friend of a friend, she is even more avid a Snow White collector than myself, and she, too, lives right here in New Mexico. As I got to know her, it became clear that she saw in her life something of the Snow White story, as well. Now really, what are the odds of that? Sue ended up buying almost everything I had. I couldn’t believe my good fortune to sell it all to someone who would love and care for it as much, or more, than I did.

When it was over, I thought I would regret it, but I didn’t. I felt free. Free from the burden of things. Free to make new, more meaningful ways of loving, honoring and remembering.

I kept my mom’s little box. It serves the practical purpose of holding all our keys! It makes me smile to think of my mom as a little girl, creating beautiful things in the midst of terrible hardship. Because that is the woman she was, the woman I knew. Being the practical person I am, I held out the best and smallest pieces of my Snow White collection, the watches, for my kids, hoping someday, if they find themselves in need, those watches will bring them a pretty penny, as well.





8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gracieponders
    Aug 24, 2018 @ 19:12:39

    I loved this post! I like how honest you are! I am too. I recently helped my sister move, and like you she’s holding on to things, which now I know, she’s trying to hold on to people. So many things that she had were from my family. However she can’t seem to let go.


    • chalkdustfairy
      Aug 26, 2018 @ 18:42:19

      Thanks so much for reading, gracieponders! I’m just climbing back on the blogging “horse” after a long time away, so it means a lot to me that you connected with something I wrote. (I’ll have to tell the hubs someone appreciates my honesty! 😊) I’m 52 years old and just figured all this stuff out about myself in recent years, which just goes to show that we’re all on different timetables in life and there is always HOPE!


  2. beforethehangar
    Aug 24, 2018 @ 22:58:13

    I never new the box had been painted by Grandma! It’s seems well built for its history. I thought it was something you picked up at a thrift store or garage sale a long time ago.


    • chalkdustfairy
      Aug 26, 2018 @ 18:49:37

      Makes perfect sense that you’d think that, considering my history. 😬 Now you know not to throw that box away after I die! Love ya! Thanks for reading!

      PS Look for the secret compartment with the key to the safe deposit box. 😜


  3. Terri Gale
    Aug 25, 2018 @ 06:31:03

    I decluttered the top of my dresser a year or so ago. It had held a large collection of little things my kids had made in elementary and at church. At one point I realized that I didn’t need a painted popsicle house or a dusty faded crepe paper rose to remember my kids loved me. I saved one or two things, but let the rest go and like your said, I felt freer.


    • chalkdustfairy
      Aug 26, 2018 @ 20:57:24

      YEESSS! I just packed all those kinds of things up finally, put them in with the kids’ papers, etc. and gave them to them to decide what to do with. Not my problem anymore! Haha! Thanks for reading! (Hope things are going well for you!)


Say Something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: