Confessions of a Savoholic

My friend Jan gave me this photo in a frame after we graduated from college, and she moved to California.  She said this would be us checking our mailboxes for letters from each other, back in the days before email. I've saved all of her letters, including emails. And I still check my emailbox often to see what hilarious tale she has to tell me.

My friend Jan gave me this photo in a frame after we graduated from college, and she moved to California. I've saved all of her letters, including emails. And I still check my e-mailbox often to see what hilarious tale she has to tell me.

My birthday is coming up, but don’t mail me a card.  Forget a Christmas card, too.

As much as I’m eager to hear from you — and I assure you that I am — I’ll be compelled to save whatever you send to me.  I miss as much as anyone the fact that almost no one sends a “real” card or letter anymore, but it’s like booze to an alcoholic to me.

Your card, photocopied newsletter of your trip around the world, photos of your kids and dogs, the rare actual hand-written letter — I keep it all.  At least I’ve given up stamp-collecting, so I don’t have to save the envelope, too. (Although I might!)

It’s bad enough that I save every scrap of paper that my children have ever doodled on, but I also keep the greetings of people whose names I barely remember from Christmas to Christmas.

Once in January while walking with friends, I saw a ripped trash bag, its contents spilling onto the grass.  Christmas cards and –worse still — photographs were swirling in the wind.  I was horrified.  Someone threw away photographs?  I have every photograph I’ve ever gotten, plus the ten thousand I’ve taken myself.

“I throw away everything after a couple of weeks, ” one friend, Karen, said as I picked up one of the tossed treasures.  I even knew the family, which made it more heart-rending.  These poor smiling people were on their way to the dump.  Karen saw nothing cold-hearted about a trash bag full of holiday greetings and carefully posed family portraits.  She never sends any of these items herself, so maybe it’s understandable.  Her weakness is sending beautiful party invitations, which I’ve kept, of course.

“You didn’t throw away my photo, did you?”  My children with their cat, Malcolm?

“You can’t keep everything,” Karen shrugged.

“You can’t?”  Well, I’m certainly trying to.

Recently, I looked through my Christmas cards from 1999.  I cried again over the loss of a friend’s father.  That could be a clue.  Research studies are under way on the nature of hoarding.  It must be a primordial fear of not having enough of something, whether food, memories or information. At least I use my saved stuff — when I can find it.

Sometimes, I read “how to de-clutter” books, patting myself on the back that I got them from the library and didn’t add them to the glut of books and magazines I already own.  I even take some of the advice — for about a week.

The internet has been a gift.  I love email from friends.  You can keep in contact with people throughout the world.  The mail is easily filed and stored, thanks to Yahoo and Google.  My husband was shocked one day to see that I had 10,142 read messages in my inbox. Why not?  Google can handle it.

A related problem is saving articles on various interesting subjects.  I call it “cliptomania.”  I won’t tell you how many file cabinets I own and how many stacks of clippings are waiting to be filed.

I also save articles in cyberspace, where they don’t clutter my office, although sometimes I save the “hard” copy, just in case.  I think this means I’m a “digital pack rat.”  The New York Times allows you to save its articles at no charge and even tells you how many others saved the same one.  I’m not alone….usually.

Well, at least I don’t collect anything else.  Oh, gosh, I forgot about matchbooks, but since smoking is being banned in restaurants (I never smoked, and I never used any of my matchbooks….) free matchbooks are hard to come by these days. Problem solved there.

Naturally, I married someone who can keep everything he’s saved in one file drawer.  Periodically, he happily does a purge and then looks at my stuff.  The scariest words my husband can say are, “I’ll clean your office for you.”

Still, one Christmas he gave me ten pairs of scissors so I can clip wherever I am. It’s like giving drugs to an addict.  I’d enter a twelve-step program, but I really don’t want to quit.

I was just kidding about the birthday and Christmas cards.  I’ll be waiting by the mailbox.

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4 Comments

Filed under Communication, Family, Friendship, Health, Humor, Life, Personal, Uncategorized

4 responses to “Confessions of a Savoholic

  1. we live in a world that changing so fast. internet evolution is coming. internet is a gift. and we are gifted. thanks for sharing. please visit my motivational blog and leave a comment. thanks 😉

  2. alwaysjan

    I’m try to think of things I can send snail mail so the postman still comes round. It gives my dogs a reason to live.

    I saved all your letters for 20 years and then because my house refused to burn down and destroy all the evidence, I finally parted, albeit reluctantly, with them. I actually hung onto them in case you were cruelly struck down with a terminal illness when your kids were young so they could “know you” through your letters.

    So it’s actually a GOOD thing!

  3. Oh my gosh Cathy, you’ve been busy writing this week – I’m just catching up with you. I’ve had a week of writers block! Frustrating, especially as I’ve three deadlines to do my tomorrow…
    Malcolm – your old friend – you describe exactly how I feel towards my older animals be they cattle, sheep or dogs and cats. For me there is a reverence, respect and almost a personal ‘hurting’ for their aging and declining abilities.
    Then your daughter’s kittens! And the chiggers again. Now the saving and squirreling away of everything. Yes, that resonates though I’m being strict with myself as I’ve had to clear too many of my relatives homes and sifting through rooms of letters and photos – well, I just never get a move on…it’s all too interesting. Snap with the husband.
    Many many happy returns and thoughts for your birthday!

  4. ps – I’m attempting to put you on my blogroll, but since wordpress rearranged things they’ve moved my blogroll tab – but no doubt, with time, I’ll find it again in a perfectly logical place!

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