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Hall, the appraiser, believes that families who shed personal mementos will eventually regret losing that link to their history. “It’s very sad,” she said. “They don’t want to take the time to read Dad’s letters from the foxhole to Mom.” When Hall encounters such keepsakes, “I tie a ribbon around them and send them to a family member with a note saying, ‘One day these could be important to you or your children or grandchildren.’ ”
Some families are finding new ways to “keep” items with sentimental value. The Olson siblings, who recently hired Empty the Nest to help their mother, Garnet Olson, downsize from the house she’s lived in for 52 years, agreed to part with their family camping equipment after a sister set it up in vignettes and took pictures, which will be preserved in a book, Liz Olson said.
Rostad, who’s a retired teacher, moved back to her childhood home in Houston, Minn., to dispose of parents’ belongings. She’s done well. “Goodwill knows my car by sight,” she said. Still, many items remain, including her mother’s cookbooks, fabrics and, of course, the dolls.
“I have strong sentimental ties, but from a practical standpoint, I can’t keep everything,” she said. “We are just so overwhelmed with stuff in our society. But the stuff meant something to somebody. I’m trying to find a way to honor that while still paring down.”
Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784