I am a sentimental person. I get sappy over just about everything under the sun. I'm the person who cries in the movie theater. I'm the one who sends the mushy birthday and anniversary cards. I listen to songs and read books and my bleeding heart aches for all those fictional people. And so, I also get very attached to things. It's not just a picture frame, it's the Belle princess sparkly picture frame my best friend got me for Christmas (or maybe my birthday) after she spent a semester in Disneyland. It's not just a plastic dinosaur, it was the dinosaur hero of all my prehistoric epics played out when I was little.
It's particularly bad with books. As I have mentioned before, my house is full of books, and it has driven me, as an adult, to utilize the library more and try to keep my owned book intake to a minimum. Having said that, I bought a lot of books when I was a kid and a teenager. I received a lot of books as gifts (and still do). And somehow, each one has a special meaning, and it makes it very difficult for me to get rid of them ever. Even if I don't read them much anymore, I remember how much I enjoyed reading them at one point and think, "Well, I might like to do that in the future."
Then there's the good ol' argument, "I should keep this for when I have kids because I know I'll want it then." That's all well and good, but what do you do in the meantime? What if it takes me ten years to have kids and in between I'm up to my ears in picture books? Having said that, that sounds TOTALLY AWESOME because I LOVE picture books, but still. I am moving soon, and I may try to leave the majority of my "for my kids" picture book collection at home until we move somewhere bigger and I can come back and get them. Angelina Ballerina is totally coming with me.
Then, excuse number three -- I will read it in the near future. No I won't. But I tell myself I will. I have had a copy of The Brothers Karamazov tucked away in a box under my bed for almost five years because I read excerpts of it my senior year in high school, thought it was awesome, resolved to read it, bought it, then never opened it. Maybe the Russians are just too intimidating right now (I don't know why, I read Dickens all the time), but I just can't bring myself to sit down and read that book. And it's hardly doing me any good collecting dust.
Fourthly, there's the academic books. I have recently come to the almost frightening realization that I really don't much want to be a teacher. Yes, shocking, I know. I'd rather be a professor or a librarian. But even though I am not bent on being a teacher, I find it very difficult to let go of my educational psychology book, for example. Or even my ELL textbook. You know. Just in case. What if I need it for something? Then there's the books that actually pertain to my favorite historical topic which I plan on pursuing at some point in my life. I have it in my head that I need to build up my library, so I have three very full shelves of books like Genealogies of Religion and A History of Islamic Societies and The Bhagavad Gita (in Sanskrit AND English, my friend -- boooooyahhhh). Then Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and the Wizard of Oz all basically get their own shelf. By the end of the day, everything is super crowded, I still read a bunch of library books, and I am flat out of space.
It's quite a daunting task, at times. The what-if factor has a strong pull, as does that age-old fear of the unknown. Not to mention, there are a bunch of doom-and-gloomers who are predicting the end of the printed word as we know it (and am I really helping this cause by blogging? Probably not). I believe very firmly in physical books and their ability to transcend fads (i.e. the iPad), but I get scared nonetheless.
In the end, I guess you just have to say to yourself, "This way, someone else will get a chance to enjoy them." And let them go. Yes, I am a zen master. A zen master who is going to put on some ABBA and go through the boxes under her bed.
By the bye, if you or your loved ones are looking to donate books, the Salvation Army, Goodwill, and your local library are always willing to accept them. :)