Where Do I Draw The Clutter Line?

Dear FlyLady,

My great-grandmother passed away when I was 15. Born in 1901 she was an amazing woman. I remember helping her can tomatoes when she was 90. She had grandma cookies she was famous for and she always served them on old chocolate brown stoneware.

Last year, my aunt and my grandma presented me with great-grandma’s box of brown stoneware, which they’d been saving for me for 15 years. It’s still in the box in the shed. I’m stuck. Is this clutter? What does one do with heirloom clutter?

I should probably add that the dishes we actually use were my grandmother’s as well. I mentioned once as a teen that I liked the Currier and Ives pattern while at an antique shop with Grandma and aunt. I received the set that grandma had used when my dad was growing up. They have been collecting more for me ever since.

I do like the dishes–but… I’m both afraid to use them and get them chipped and afraid not to use them and offend Grandma. I have some that I use and a very large tote that is in the shed next to great-grandma’s dishes.

So, FlyLady, I guess what I am asking is where do I draw the clutter line?

Dished in the Midwest

Dear Dished in the Midwest,

If you don’t love, don’t use it, or you have two of them, then the answer is obvious. I would add one more thing for old dishes. I would test them for lead. The test kits are inexpensive. This could be the answer you are looking for. If they test positive for lead, then destroy them.

If you don’t want to keep, them then bake some of her cookies, place them on a doily and then take a picture of them. Then give away a plate to each of your family members. You could start a new tradition of sharing the recipe on her plates.

You can get rid of dishes you don’t love. Being in the shed sort of proves that you don’t love them. You can’t live in fear of breaking them. If you love them get rid of something else to make room for these dishes.

Your family means well. I have one bowl from my great grand mother and an egg cup from my grand mother. I have one small porcelain box from my mother. Robert has a turkey platter and a silver spoon. We use them every Thanksgiving.

In order to make room for the new; you have to get rid of something you already have.  This keeps our homes from becoming cluttered after we have worked so hard to eliminate it. As we are decluttering we have to get rid of two items for every new item brought home.


We have a whole section of our website dedicated to eliminating clutter in fun ways. Check it out! DECLUTTERING page and tools!
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