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Sadly, no, I haven't recently been mistaken for a younger and less gray haired version of myself. But it's bad. Really bad. I've discovered I'm not just an Internet admitted hoarder of paper and plastic bags. Nope, I've now crossed the line into full blown greeting card hoarding territory. It's a slippery slope I tell you!

The whole process started so innocently. Yes, this latest guilty realization of hoarding came as I was in search of Valentine's Day decorations. (February is just around the corner, after all.) While rummaging through the buffet in our dining room in search of paper hearts to delicately hang from our chandelier, I stumbled upon it. "It" being my hoard of greeting cards.

Like a junkie who just uncovered a hidden stash long forgotten, I knew I had to rid myself of this evil hoard. But each card probably had such deep sentiment and meaning that my life simply wouldn't be able to go on without the comforting and earth shattering messages in the cards like "Happy Birthday." Yes everyone, I agree, I had a very difficult set of decisions ahead of me. As Lulu looked on from the other room, she could sense the pain and confusion I was probably experiencing.

Here's a little background that I'll pass off as a thinly veiled excuse for this paper-based addiction. Just as my mom has done for many years, each time I receive a thoughtful card in the mail, I proudly display it on our fireplace mantle. Having moved to another state, far from all family, this simple tradition makes birthdays and anniversaries feel more special. While we may not have the physical presence of family on a daily or weekly basis, the display of their heartfelt words reinforces our bond and reiterates that someone is thinking of us from afar. What I'm trying to say is, "I learned it from watching you, okay Mom?!?!" This photo of our dining room circa October 2004 shows my tradition.

After displaying the cards for a week or so after the event, I lovingly tuck all or most of them in the buffet drawer nearest the mantle. Years of completing this tradition has taken its toll, and this weekend the shocking realization of the situation had set in -- the greeting cards were taking over. 

Greeting cards are now packed so tightly in this drawer it can barely be opened. Forget storage for paper hearts, I knew I had to stop in my tracks and remedy this situation immediately. Alex hadn't started photographing the event until after I had started organizing, attempting to hide my shame from the cold and soulless lens of our camera. What we're left with is the grotesque mid-cleaning crash, overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation. Lulu, bored with my plight, began looking forward to her next nap, clearly only moments away.

I sorted through the stacks, keeping personal favorites and those with meaningful notes. Clear patterns began to emerge. Without a doubt, my friends and family know my three passions in life and know them well. The assortment of cards that made the cut clearly fit into three primary categories.

1. Cute animals, specifically pugs.

2. Cake, specifically cupcakes.

3. Alcohol, specifically martinis.

Okay, maybe "passion" is a bit extreme. Or, upon closer inspection, perhaps not. 

After having appreciated all the cards one additional time, I recycled those that didn't make the cut. I was able to put a big dent in the sheer quantity of my hoard, and after completion, now have a drawer that is nice, neat, and has open space for the next round of holidays!! 

Having completed the task, and now refocused on my Valentine's search, I opened the top right drawer of our buffet. There, among errant paint chips of years past and a bunch of other random junk, lie an unspeakable horror -- more cards. Perhaps there's no hope for me after all, but I'll admit it, I quietly closed that drawer without a bit of sorting or savoring, leaving that project for another day.

Are you finding yourself drawn to organizational projects this time of year, perhaps as a New Year's resolution? Do you too find yourself saving greeting cards and other thoughtful keepsakes, only to be later surprised at just how large your stash has grown? Are there other items you "save" that have gotten out of control? Please tell me I'm not alone in my sickness.

Comments 20

Comments

DianaG
1/24/2013 at 10:11 AM
You too? I've finally started tackling my desk drawers at home and I'm stunned at the excess. I may have to rent a truck to haul it away.
Wendy
1/24/2013
I know! It's amazing how much you can stuff in a drawer.

Good luck with your organizational efforts!
Martin
1/24/2013 at 10:42 AM
Been there... still there. I still have cards for 8-10 years ago. They're scattered in various boxes throughout my house, so when I come across a dozen or so, it doesn't seem so hoarder-ish. :)
Wendy
1/24/2013
I'm with you. Spreading the load helps minimize the problem. :-)
Heather
1/24/2013 at 11:24 AM
Glad to see that someone else does the "display cards for awhile, then stash away for safekeeping" routine! You never know when you may need that reminder of the love someone has for you, or when you can reuse those cards for something (Christmas gift tags, artwork/decor around the house, etc.).

I think I'm afraid to check out my scattered stash at this point, but it would be a good trip down memory lane.
Wendy
1/24/2013
Phew, so glad I'm not alone! :-) It was a fun trip down memory lane, but I'm also glad to have some space back in my buffet.
Karin K
1/24/2013 at 12:45 PM
A problem I have, and you would have it too if Lulu and Mel had opposable thumbs and a crafting station, is kid artwork. As soon as they go to preschool, it comes into the house by the TON. At first, I kept almost all of it, even going so far as to buy cute decorative storage boxes for it. Now that they are 9 and 12 I have developed the ability to pitch all but they really good stuff, and even that stacks up. The guilt of throwing out your child's artwork is stinging at first. Then when you're looking at the fiftieth rainbow over a house that looks nothing like your own, you begin to be able to let go. You do know we're all expecting a post showing us some killer artwork you made out of those cards, right? :)
Wendy
1/24/2013
My mom used to save each and every piece of our artwork and our homework. Luckily she realized that our feelings wouldn't be hurt if she "downsized." I'm sure I would struggle with this too if Lulu and Mel decide to become artists. :-)

Hmm...artwork, eh? I might have to test out Anne's banner idea (below).
lindsey
1/24/2013 at 1:10 PM
I keep all of it - I still have my first communion cards! I'm bad enough that I even save Christmas cards.

My very old ones from my childhood are in a box in the closet. Christmas ones are in a Christmas tin that comes out with all the other decorations. Birthdays and random ones are in a pretty box in my den, and wedding ones are in a decorative box we used as the card box in our wedding, also in my living room. This all sounded very logical in my head, but I suppose I do have a serious problem and someone should call Hoarders.
Wendy
1/24/2013
Uh oh. Your comment jogged my memory that I save Christmas cards too (they're stored in my holiday storage tubs) and I have all of our wedding/shower cards in the basement. Good grief. Maybe this is a bigger problem than I realized? We should start a support group. ;-)
anne57vt
1/24/2013 at 2:05 PM
Perhaps you could make a holiday or other themed garland, ie a birthday garland from the birthday ones, etc. I did one like this with old christmas cards, and it was really fun to see them on display:

dogsordollars.com/2012/11/28/recycling-christmas-cards/
Wendy
1/24/2013
What a fantastic idea! Thanks for sharing, Anne. :-)
1/24/2013 at 3:31 PM
Hahaha! Too funny. You are not alone. I'm a greeting card hoarder as well. Just like you the holiday ones are in the holiday bins. We have tons from when we got married and from when our daughter was born. Every once in a while I try to thin them out, but I'm just not ready to get rid of all of them. That's just who I am, I guess!
Wendy
1/28/2013
I hear you, Tammi! That's who I am too. :-)
1/24/2013 at 4:49 PM
I'm so glad to hear that I'm not alone! I just went through my card hoard last weekend. I've tried to narrow down my pile to only cards that have nice notes inside. I had been meaning to look on Pinterest for any ideas on things to do with cards. I have so many with nice cards from my Grandparents that I know I'd like to keep.
Wendy
1/28/2013
Checking out Pinterest is a great idea! I loved the garland idea that Anne suggested (above). I'll have to do some research too. It seems that for major holidays and birthdays there has to be a creative way to display old cards in a beautiful and tasteful way.
Tee
1/24/2013 at 10:02 PM
Oh my goodness. I saved every birthday, anniversary, Valentine and Christmas card my husband and I exchanged for 43 years. I had not one, but two nightstands crammed full of cards. Three years ago we read through all the cards and saved less than a half dozen. It took two (2) of those very large black plastic can liners to contain all the cards. We have agreed not to exchange cards, but to express verbally to each other our love and commitment in order to stop the craziness of keeping and storing all the cards.
Wendy
1/28/2013
That's really beautiful, Tee! And so touching that you saved your cards for 43 years!
JC
1/24/2013 at 10:02 PM
This is something that I REALLY need to do too. I have cards all over the house in probably half a dozen different places, and I need to go through them. Many have no particular sentimental value, but I just hate to throw them away, knowing someone spent 5$ on them. Then, there are some super fancy hand made ones that are beautiful, but take up a huge amount of space. I do want to keep those, but I'm not sure how I'd want to store them. I had thought of eventually making some kind of album, but...
Wendy
1/28/2013
I hear you, JC. I need to come up with a fun project to display these card, rather than just stuff them in a drawer!
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