Sheila Sybrant

To keep or to ditch? That is the question.

That certainly was the question over the holidays when my daughter and I spent time going through her stuff.

Emily is an adult and no longer lives in our house —and has not lived here for quite a few years — but some items from her childhood and teen years still live here.

Emily is in a somewhat transitional phase in that she rents an apartment and is not necessarily living where she might end up more permanently, and my husband and I have plenty of room in our house, so I am happy to keep Emily’s treasured mementos until she wants to claim them.

But I knew that a lot of the things that Emily left behind when she moved out were things that she didn’t necessarily want to keep; she had just never taken the time to sort through them.

Since Emily was home for Christmas, I decided that it was a good time for us to tackle the sorting task of what to save and what to give away or throw away.

That might not seem like a very fun way to spend time with a child whom you don’t see nearly often enough, but, in fact, I highly recommend it. It was tons of fun.

There is nothing like sorting through key chains, high school T-shirts, stuffed animals and scraps of paper with notes from friends to generate animated conversation and laughter about past events and incidences.

Sometimes, though, that laughter can turn on you.

I’m going to digress a moment to talk about those find-the-differences puzzles. Do you know the ones I mean? I’m talking about the ones that contain, side by side, two pictures that are seemingly the same but actually have minor differences. Your job as the puzzle solver is to find the differences.

I like to think that these puzzles are less about intelligence and more about the fact that some people are naturally observant and other people — well, not so much. I like to think this because it makes me feel a little better about myself.

So, back to the sorting project. There we were, going through a pile of blankets. The obvious keepers were the baby afghans made by grandparents and throws made by friends.

I pulled out from the stack a purple one made of fleece material that had a pattern of balls as its design. “Oh, I remember this one,” I said. “I made this for you when you were playing volleyball.”

Emily looked at me oddly and said, “You do know, Mom, don’t you, that those are soccer balls and not volleyballs on that blanket?”

I looked at the blanket. “No. Really? How can you tell?” I asked.

Emily proceeded to explain to me the difference between soccer balls and volleyballs, even pulling up pictures of each on her phone. I won’t bore you with the details because you probably already know the difference.

Emily told me that she always wondered why I gave her a blanket with soccer balls on it but just thought it was nice that I’d made a blanket for her.

“Obviously, I made this blanket for you because I thought it had volleyballs on it,” I said.

“Well, this explains a lot,” she said.

Both of us were laughing so hard by this time that my stomach hurt.

The blanket was not relegated to the “give away” or “throw away” piles.

“I’m definitely keeping it just so I can remember this day,” Emily laughed.

Readers may contact Sheila at svsybrant@gmail.com or 45092 859th Road, Bassett, NE 68714.

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