homemade quilt in red, yellow, green, black and white colors on a concrete basement

Sentimental Stuff

If you have trouble letting things go, you’re not alone. Making decisions about our stuff is exhausting and difficult for many people. Each and every thing seems attached to us by a tiny invisible thread, and cutting those threads can leave us feeling unsettled.

This quilt was a perfect example. The hand-stitching is uneven at best and I don’t love the colors anymore. It’s been in the basement for decades. Yet the pull to keep it was huge.

I made this quilt over 23 years ago when I was on maternity leave. Although I was creating a human being, which I now realize was the most complex, amazing job I could have been doing, at the time I felt bored and incredibly unproductive. I didn’t know what to do with myself all day and so I found a job, making a quilt which I laboriously pieced together by hand and then inexpertly stitched to a blanket so we could use it. Making it kept me busy and I enjoyed seeing the progress as it grew and grew.

The baby was born in the summer and so I tucked the quilt away for the harsh New England winter, little knowing that we’d spend most of the next couple of decades in places where it never got cold enough to need a quilt like this.

And all the time I was keeping it because I made it while I was waiting for my son. Somehow the two events got connected in my mind, so I couldn’t possibly let it go. My son. The quilt. Two totally unrelated things, but the memory of that time was tied up in the quilt I didn’t love, want or need.

How did I let it go? I acknowledged the sadness that that time has passed, never to return. I remembered that although that precious time was gone, I experienced it. It happened whether or not I have the “proof” of a poorly constructed, awkwardly colored quilt. As we tell our kids about their artwork and creative projects, the fun was in the doing. The having becomes a drag if we hold onto more than fits in our sentiment box.

I took it to the thrift store, confident that the right person would find it. If it keeps someone warm, that’s fantastic. If it ends up as a dog blanket, that’s wonderful. Any useful outcome beats sitting in a tote in my basement for another twenty years.

What are you holding onto simply because you had it at a significant time in your life? Are you ready to assess whether you really want it or whether it’s just been coming along for the ride?


      1. I just can’t bring myself to give away baby quilts. I’ve given away my daughter’s baby clothes, but have held on to all these. Sighhh, Lucy points to them now!! 😂


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