When You Can’t Remember a Memory

That broken Christmas ornament perplexes me.

I’m going to be honest.  It’s sitting in a Donate Box in my garage.  If I can’t remember where it came from by the time that Donate Box leaves the house, it will be gone forever.

Here’s the thing.  Hubby and I have a tradition of buying Christmas ornaments on vacations.  Ornaments that represent special places are a great way to re-live memories during an already sentimental time of year.

But while an end-of-November tree-decorating party involves laughter and eggnog and exclamations of delight as we open boxes full of Christmas treasures, mid-January putting-away isn’t quite so exciting. 

Pretty little baubles start to get on my nerves.

So when I discovered this broken ornament right AFTER Hubby finished hauling the boxes back up to the attic, I was rather irritated.

Especially because I couldn’t figure out where it came from.  Maybe it’s from a vacation?  It seems rather “made-from-native-wood”ish.

Maybe it’s from someone else’s vacation?

I really have no idea.  And I really didn’t feel like dragging out the glue-gun.

Or asking Hubby to take it back up to the attic.

Or going up to the attic myself . . . (Hahahaha!  Like that would ever happen!)

And I really didn’t feel like finding a not-in-the-attic place to store it for next year.  Where I’d probably forget about it anyway.

So I threw gently placed it into the Donate Box.

But still, I felt the nagging guilt that I was decluttering a memory.

Except it’s not really a memory if I can’t actually remember it.

Please note that if you gave me this ornament, or you have one just like it from your family vacation and you DO remember where that vacation was, please let me know.

Actually, only let me know if you’re reading this in January of 2013.  If you’re catching up on old posts and it’s July, please don’t tell me.  It will be gone by then and I’ll just be sad.




  1. 1

    I’m curious why you’re donating something that’s broken? Is it to delay the pain of throwing it away in hopes that you’ll remember where you got it before it goes away forever, and have another chance to rescue it? Or do you think that some other person will want to buy a broken ornament and fix it? I don’t know where you send your donations, but do they accept/sell broken items? I agonize over questions like these while I’m deliberating and doing the “keep/donate/trash” dance while decluttering my own belongings.

    • 2

      Good question! I don’t usually donate broken stuff. But . . . for some reason this one is making me feel particularly guilty, perhaps because it could easily be fixed? It’s on top of the Donate Box, so I’ll either remember and keep it, or probably trash it before the donations leave.

      • 3
        Elaine in Ark says:

        I have friends who volunteer at one of those places, and they’ll just throw it away when they empty your box.

        Do them a favor and put it where broken things should go – the trash.

      • 4

        Don’t let your guilt over the broken ornament goad you into donating what’s basically trash. If it’s easy to fix, then fix it. If you still want to donate it, do so. But if it’s too much of a pain in the neck for you to fix then it’s trash… to you AND to the donation people.

  2. 5

    Oh! don’t you hate when that happens?
    You do make me laugh though. Because I have lots of forgotten memories. Until my head hits the pillow and sleep is what I’m REALLY WANTING…then the memories come flooding back. like crazy!

    I say if it’s something that you think can be repaired easily…send it to donate. (Tape or Bag all the pieces together) …and if the worker unloading the box thinks they can fix it. It will go in the ’employee perks and benefits’ box to be taken home! ….(I dunno, just made that up) Point is…if you can’t throw it away– there is an hourly wage earner down the road getting paid to do this for us!
    (Please don’t think I think this is a demeaning job or anything….because I don’t) I’m just saying…some of us steer clear of the garbage when it comes to our precious broken vessels!
    have a great Tuesday– Pat

  3. 6
    Jodie in MN says:

    I’m guessing that it is implied that you did, but did you ask your husband? I hate when I am putting up or taking down an ornament and I can’t for the life of me remember where it came from or which kid made it. I try to label things but some just slip through the cracks!

  4. 7

    I do send broken things to the thrift store at times. I’m not always sure what the workers are paid to do at those places like Goodwill that hire the disabled who are taught skills. I also send clothing that’s in bad shape if I know that the charity will sometimes sell fabric goods by the pound or ship them off to third world countries where they might be made into something else (like rag rugs).

    Funny story: Years ago I bought a batch of clothes from ebay because there was a new-with-tags skirt I wanted in the lot. (It was one auction of a batch of clothes.) Most of the clothes arrived still having the colored plastic barbs thrift stores often use. One pair of brand name teen twill shorts was so worn out and filthy I actually did throw it away. You would never imagine that the store actually put that on their rack or that someone actually bought it and then that they actually resold it! Mind-boggling! (The skirt I wanted was new with tags but had a food-type crusty stain on it.) I got a partial refund and seller got bad feedback, BTW.

  5. 8

    I do have the same guilt! That’s why I don’t have a completely organized home yet. I loved your blog about birthday cards. I’m going to keep the last ones my grandparents (now deceased) gave me & let the rest go. I remember Peter Walsh saying that the item isn’t the person – keep the memories & let the items go. Hard to do, but good advice. If you don’t have the memory, let the guilt go!

    Really appreciate you and your blog & how “real” you are!

    • 9
      Lori in NC says:

      Thank you – I needed to read your post today! I still have pangs of ‘sad’ when I think about the old Nike tennis shoes I tossed a couple years ago (that were 30 years old!) — not because I would ever wear them again or because anyone else would want to — but because my mom got them for me to cheer me up after my grandfather died when I was 15. “Keep the memory.” I like that. They were just old shoes. I remember the comfort of feeling that love.

  6. 10

    This little ornament looks like it’s carved from cypress wood in the Holy Land. Some of my relatives bought some for us when they toured Jerusalem a few short years ago. Best! Oh, and let one of your kids fix it with glue as an after-school project. It’s amazing to me when I “sick” my kids on a project like fixing something I never seemed to have found the time to work on, just how much they love doing it. Sense of accomplishment and pride. (And working with our hands runs in our blood.)
    It’s “educational,” too!!! Haha!!!

    • 11

      Hmmmm. My parents went to Isreal a few years ago . . . .

      (I’d think my mother would chime in, though!) I love the idea of having the kids fix it! If I can remember . . . I’ll have my 9yo do that today!

  7. 13

    2-1/2 years after your post–I’m a fairly new reader and catching up–pretty sure it is/was olive wood from Israel.

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