Heirloom Guilt

Heirloom Guilt

Hi, my name is Sara and I have heirloom guilt. What is heirloom guilt? It’s a mental health issue, kind of. A psychological block that brings about feelings of guilt at having to get rid of family “heirlooms”. And I use heirloom loosely. It sounds fancier than “getting rid of the “crap my family couldn’t” guilt”.

I openly admit to still, after nearly 18 months, having most of my grandmother’s belongings in storage. Some of it has been in storage for almost 4 years since we put some things in storage when she moved to Phoenix. But, at that time, it was her stuff. It wasn’t for me to discard. She and I would discuss going to the storage until “when it was cooler”, “when I feel better”, “when I’m not so tired”, “after the holidays”. You know, later. Another time. A time when the memories won’t flood and make her sad. Sad to be without both of her children and husband. Sad to think that soon she would leave me alone.

Those days going to the storage unit never came. After she passed away I only had a short time to clear out her apartment. So nearly all of it went into storage. And now, nearly two years later it’s still there. Untouched. In the same boxes I packed long ago believing I would go through it “when it was warmer”, “when I had an unscheduled weekend”, “later”.

The reality is that I don’t need any of the things in storage. I’ve done fine without them this long. Organization experts say that if you haven’t used something in 12 months it’s time to get rid of it. But this is my family’s history. Memories. Connection. Our past. How do you get rid of someone’s past?

All rhetorical questions, I know. It happens every day. People purge stuff all the time. We move. We downsize. We get tired of dust collectors. The bags and boxes fill up, we pile them in the car, and drop them at the donation center without making much eye contact lest they see we aren’t sure we should be doing this.

I know I can’t keep everything that’s packed into two storage units. Actually, I can’t keep most of it. I also can’t keep paying the monthly storage fee. That’s idiotic. I’ve already paid several thousand dollars. If I hold on to it for a few more years I could have bought a really nice car with the money paid to store all this stuff. That’s kind of stupid. My grandparents taught me better about using my money wisely. Ugh, more guilt!

Heirloom guilt is very real. Sometimes it’s debilitating. I drive to the storage unit but can’t even go in to the locker. It’s overwhelming to think about getting rid of my past. My memories. My history. At the same time, though, it will all just end up a pike of garbage if I do nothing.

I think of selling or giving it away and my heart gets heavy, my chest becomes tight, the adrenaline starts to rush, and the thoughts of not having a past swirl. I think of those who lose everything to fire, flood, war. I think of them and try to understand that the stuff isn’t what hold my memories. I hold the memories. I am responsible for sharing those memories. For sharing the past. That this stuff can’t speak and tell the story. If I don’t tell their story they’re worthless.

Ultimately, though, it’s not about the stuff or the memories. It’s about my own realization that I’m the last one. That I’m alone, in some sense of the word. That my family is gone and all I have are these trinkets. And either I let go of the guilt or I’ll be controlled by it.

So, I take a deep breath and close my eyes. And believe that it’s OK for me to let go of the stuff. And the guilt.


Preserving Disney Memories

Many of you know I have what some would call an unnatural love of Disney. I own it! Which is why CycleGuy and I have chosen to call Family Disney Photo Book by Snapfish - ARRDisney World our premier family vacation destination for the past five years. For over 50 days we’ve created so many memories and have had amazing family experiences.

Coming back from vacation is often bittersweet. All the fun is over and we’re left with a handful of photos to help preserve those memories. And this being the digital age, we know where all those photos are – on the computer. In talking with friends, it’s rare that we take the time to edit and print off those images. No longer do we drop off those rolls of film at the drug store, wait a week and hope there are a few decent ones we can put in an album or possibly even frame. Nope! They’re on our computer and possibly loaded in to our screen saver so we’ll catch a few of them every once in awhile.

But, I’m a bit different. I’m one of those people who prints off her photos. Not all of them, but quite a few. And I make enlargements and put them in pretty frames or send them to Bubbe (my grandma) and Grandmommy (CycleGuy’s grandma). I’ve had people tell me my house looks like it’s from the 1970s – you know, your grandma’s house with eighty-two million photos of every person from birth. It’s not that bad, but I do love having photos to share. For me, there’s just something about sitting on the couch with a photo book or photo album flipping through the pages and sharing memories.

Since BabyGirl was born I’ve created over 20 photo books and albums. In the past it often required hours of my time. Now, it’s super easy! In just 9 years technology has advanced to the point where it’s really just drag and drop and within 20 minutes I’ve got a personal momento. But when it came to Disney, there weren’t all that many options. Disney’s Photopass service is awesome, but it would be nice to have another option to create Disney-inspired photo memories.

In November, my Twitter stream was filled with 24/7 Disney for the 10 days the family was at Walt Disney World. During that time, Snapfish by HP noticed and asked me if I’d like to check out their new line of Disney-themed photo creations. Recently, Snapfish by HP  launched a new partnership with Disney that gives us a choice of Cars, Princess, Winnie the Pooh, Mickey & Friends, or Toy Story themed photo books, calendars, posters and photo borders.

I was so excited and I went to iPhoto and picked out about 50 photos I’d want in a Disney Princess photo book. Yes, we’re an all-pink, Disney princess lovin’ family! Since I’ve created photo books before I figured it would take me at least an hour to set up, arrange, modify and customize the photo book. I surprised when I was clicking the submit button about 30-minutes later.

Because I had already sorted my photos (go ahead, roll your eyes!) it was easy to pick out about 70 photos I’d want. The base photo book comes with 20 pages, but you can add more. I just chose 70 photos but I could have easily had over 100. There are four different sizes and several different cover options. I chose an 8×10 hardcover photo book with a custom cover because I had a photo that really summed up our trip. After uploading the photos, which I didn’t think took very long, I was ready to arrange my photos. Drag and drop, slight resize on a few and adding text and before I knew it I was done.

Each page had a slightly different Disney princess theme and photo layout. There was also the option to customize the layout and add or remove photos. And for those pages where I didn’t want or need as much caption space I was able to delete the text boxes.

Having created photo books before, I was expecting this to be a more arduous process. Snapfish by HP has a great interface for their photo products and now that there is a Disney-themed section, preserving my family’s Disney memories will be as easy as Bippity Boppity Boo!

Even if you aren’t just home from a Disney trip, it’s nice to have the Disney-themed photo options. If you have a Disney-themed party or a child that just loves Cars, Toy Story, Mickey, Winnie the Pooh or the Princesses you can now create personalized Disney memories in the comfort of your own home. I look back on my first trip to Disneyland when I was 7. I think there are two photos. There’s something magical about Disney.

Over the years I’ve used a number of different online photo sources and Snapfish by HP is one of my favorite. I have about 3 that I use, but when it comes to Disney vacation memories or adding Disney Photo Borders there’s only one, Snapfish. You may recall that I got my Hanukkah Cards from Snapfish. That’s how much I like what they have to offer.

Preserving Disney memories is now easier than ever! What is your favorite Disney memory?

Snapfish Disney Princess Photo Book

Disclosure: Snapfish provided me with complimentary Disney-themed photobook. This post reflects my views and opinions and was not reviewed or edited by a third party. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Milestones and Missing My Mom


My mom, my uncle, my Bubbie and Zadie circa 1955

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of my mother’s death. What’s usually a very somber day for me went by without much thought. And that is both a triumph and disturbing to me at the same time. A triumph because that means that time really does heal the heart, but disturbing because every day I miss my mother and this milestone day went by without my taking extra time for her remembrance.

To be honest, I have it in my head that her anniversary is the 25th this year. See, on the Jewish calendar the day is always the same but date on the secular calendar that matches the Jewish calendar date is not always the same. I know, it’s kind of weird. It’s the same reason Hanukkah is sometimes around Thanksgiving and other years (like this year) around Christmas. But, I got a letter from the synagogue reminding me that my mom’s yahrzeit (Yiddish for anniversary, but only used with reference to the anniversary of a death) will be November 25th. I was so glad to know that because I had thought it would be on the 11th and I’d be at Disney World (although, I’m sure my mom would approve of being remembered while at Disney World). So, I pushed it to the post-Disney part of my brain.

But November 6th came and nearly went, without me breaking down because I miss my mom. The day was not the sad reminder that she’s been gone almost half my life. Instead, my thoughts of her were of the joys I had as a child and young adult and how she’d be so proud of me. And as I closed my eyes to go to sleep it was then I realized that soon I will have lived more than half my life without her.

I belong to the sorority of motherless-daughters. I wish I didn’t. But I am grateful to have had the 21 years with the amazing woman who was my mother.


Memories And The Power Of A Single Scent

Gardenia photo

My Mother’s favorite flower was gardenia. When I bought my house one of the first things I did was plant a gardenia bush in the front. I didn’t realize there was anything special that needed to be don for them, and for the most part all I do is water it. What I also didn’t know was that Phoenix is considered too hot for the average person to maintain gardenias.

For the past 17 years as spring has rolled around I secretly hoped my gardenia bush would get at least one flower. Most years I’ll get buds which then burn and shrivel up. My hopes to smell that sweet floral smell of gardenia dashed. My wanting to once again smell a scent that reminds me of my mother. My childhood. Special occasions.

This year my gardenia plant is blooming with, at last count, 6 beautiful blooms like the one in the photo. Yes, that is from my gardenia plant and yes, I took the photo. See, I’m getting better at this photography thing!

I stood at the plant, hoping I could capture their beauty. Wishing I could photography the scent too. I can’t but I hope you can imagine that amazing, unique, sweet, and intensely floral gardenia. To me it says “Mom”. It will always make me think of her.

If I find someone wearing a gardenia fragrance, it makes me want to be near them. Good thing they tend to be older. And understanding. Almost 20 years ago she left this world. But one flower alone brings her back.

Experts say scents help to keep memories with us. This is a good memory I’m holding on to.

Do you have certain scents that take you back? Do you ever think about the legacy you might leave with a certain scent?