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Guilt Ridden

By Belinda

There are times in life to think through potential transitions and Paul and I did some of that recently. 

Brenda, Kevin and the girls will be moving out this summer as both girls will be in high school in another town, so we thought for a while about selling our beloved home of 25 years and moving ourselves.

Our daughter-in-law Sue, who with Pete and their four children, recently went through the major life disruption of a move herself and is therefore a bit of an expert on selling a house; told us that clutter; i.e. anything that makes a home a home; has to go. Oh, yes, and family photos too; anything that is personal, the theory being that potential buyers should be able to imagine their family in your home without being distracted by evidence of the family who still lives there.

We thought and prayed a lot, and weighed the pros and cons. In the end we decided to stay here, and once we made that decision our hearts heaved a sigh of relief and we felt at peace.

We decided to spruce up the home we love and keep decluttering though, which means I'm living in a mess at the moment as "sprucing up" means it gets worse before it gets better. And I must have an awful lot of clutter because no matter how much I give away I keep finding more.

But what I want to confess is a dastardly deed that I am guilt ridden about. It's my fridge. I've---taken---all---the---photos---off it.

It just about killed me to do it. That fridge held a massive collection of photos lovingly held in place by magnets, somewhat like a crazy quilt of smiling faces. Visitors often stood in front of our fridge and gazed at the collection of photos as though they were contemplating a great painting in an art gallery. There was an engagement  photo of Paul and me; photos of Mum and her brothers and sisters; several wedding photos; baby photos of friends' children and grandchildren; photos that people sent with their Christmas letters; grandchildren's school photos--you get the picture(s) (ha ha!) 

I suddenly decided in a decluttering frenzy one night this week that I was taking them down, because anyway, many of the photos were curling at the edges and some were so old that when teenage friends came to visit they would exclaim at their old school photos on my fridge ("Look at those glasses I used to wear!") But secretly, I think they liked finding them there.

I imagined a clean, decluttered fridge and went for it. But I was unprepared for the guilt. Every photo I took down felt like tearing out part of my heart. I felt like the biggest traitor. I felt so mean.

Even Paul, the fan of clean and uncluttered living, said, when he saw the expanse of bare whiteness, "You could have left a few of them up there you know; just not all of them!"

Now I am waiting with apprehension, for regular guests at our house to see that their photos aren't adorning our fridge anymore. Will they be hurt? Insulted? Will they despise me for heartlessly prioritizing tidyness over sentiment?

I'm gradually getting used to the blank fridge but I miss the photos and momentarily expect to see the familiar faces when I look in its direction. 

Guilt Ridden in Bond Head--that's me.


Anonymous said…
My sister took the pictures from the fridge and created a collage on a peg board - nicely framed, and put it on the wall. You are right - folks seem to get a kick out of seeing their photos there. Although my sis did say it has it's own set of pressure. People give her pictures to put up. Ha ha. My mother stripped her fridge when she moved from her house into a care-a-minimum - and I encouraged her to keep the new small fridge clear. Yet - the pics have crept back on.
swissdebbie said…
Hi Belinda I hope you get over the white-empty-stareback at you solution comes by mail
hope it will help you.
Belinda said…
Anonymous, I know what of you speak. When I saw people in front of the fridge, scanning the photos, I worried--did I have a photo of THEM--or THIS grandchild up there!!
Belinda said…
Deb--Mail!? How exciting. I can't wait. Is it another fridge? :)
Cindy said…
How about getting a photo album or scrapbook and putting them all in it then putting that on top of the fridge so they are all there but protected from curling corners or containers of ketchup falling out of the fridge!
Belinda said…
Ha ha Cindy, what a wonderful idea but I'm trying to keep the top of my fridge clutter free too. :) I have them all together, many of them still stuck to magnets with adhesive backing. Over New Years I took all of my photos out of albums and filed them in Creative Memories photo boxes. I love photography and had albums for every year of our lives together and they took up so much space. I listed in each box the key events of each year--it was quite an archiving task. I think I will add the photos to the appropriate box and treasure them there. :)
Susan said…
Hahaha. My first response was, "Is NOTHING sacred????" Apparently not. But I'm just kidding.

It's okay, Belinda. I've never actually had a photo of you or any of your grandchildren on my fridge. And come to think of it, I've never seen your photo on anyone ELSE's fridge, so I think it's pretty safe to say that you can move forward perfectly guilt-free. :)

Although, I DO have photos of Tippy and Torie in a silver frame in our bedroom alongside some of our grandkids... :)

I think you are using your blog as an 'early warning system' so people can get used to the idea before the shock of the reality. Wise, oh master, wise.
Belinda said…
Ha ha, Dave, you have my number! The cell group showed up tonight and some were indeed forewarned. Someone who wasn't, stood in front of the fridge in shock and said, "Aaaw. Where did they go?"

I'm getting to like my bare fridge though, adorned as it with the fridge magnets I actually love and not the ones advertising this and that, which I threw away.
Cindy said…
Another suggestion would be to acquire (Mother's Day is coming soon) a digital photo frame and put the fridge photos on that - along with others you enjoy on a daily basis - and prop that up somewhere so you can still enjoy them daily but keep the fridge clear.
Belinda said…
Hi Cindy, That is a GREAT idea. I have a digital photo frame. Susan gave me one several Christmases ago and I have also been guilt ridden about being intimidated by it. It's still in the box. I now realize how easy they are to use--and I will use it for my fridge photos! :)I already wanted to scan them because they look pretty frayed around the edges. This is a wonderful solution to my angst! :)
Belinda said…
Cindy--how modern will I appear? The only Granny/Omie with a digital fridge! :)
Susan said…
That's brilliant. And now when someone hands you yet ANOTHER picture, you can say, "Just a second, I'll scan this and give it back, and then we BOTH can treasure it." thereby honouring both the giver and the gift while not adding a thing to your clutterlessness. (is that a word?)
Belinda said…
I don't know if it's a word Susan but it is now. I like it! "Clutterlessness." :)

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