I keep a fairly neat and tidy home. I head right from the mailbox to the recycling bin to throw out junk mail before entering the house. I make regular donations of unused clothing, books, and household items to Goodwill. I empty the fridge, cupboards, and closets without restraint.
When it comes to artwork from my grandkids, though, I simply cannot toss a single thing. Not one thing that features a pencil scribble, paint splotch, or letters painstakingly printed by a grandson’s hand. No way will this grandma be tossing those into a garbage can or relegating them to a recycling bin, no matter the number of toeprint, thumbprint, or handprint crafts I accumulate throughout the years.
Call me a hoarder, if you must. I was the very same way with my three daughters—and the Rubbermaid containers stacked in my garage, filled to the brim with papers from school days long passed, serve as evidence of my hoarding. From the most crude caterpillars created as kindergarten artwork on up through posterboard projects completed in high school—plus a few from college, in the case of one especially artistic daughter—I have it all. One super-sized container per girl for their schoolwork, plus two filled with homemade crafts from all three, sit atop shelves in my garage. Tangible reminders of each daughter’s progress as they blossomed and bloomed, matured and moved on.
The cluttered doors of my refrigerator serve as a similar record of my oldest grandson’s progress. He’s four, so four years worth of coloring pages, cards, and thank-you notes. The older ones are signed by my daughter’s hand as she transcribed my grandson’s spoken sentiments; recent ones feature all the letters of my grandson’s name—though not always in correct order—so intentionally executed by him they emboss the paper.
Amidst the cards and coloring pages are a scribbled-upon restaurant menu, plus a poignant record of a finger-painting session in which my grandson and I together placed our ooey-gooey hands on paper, marking the moment in purple and blue. All hang haphazardly from varied magnets. At least once a week, a magnet fails, and mementos flutter to the floor. Do I toss them into the trash in frustration? Of course not. I carefully return each to the fridge, ensuring that at least one tiny spot per masterpiece remains visible.
Those are just the projects from my first grandson. I’ve yet to receive artwork from my second, younger brother to the first. I will soon, though, as he recently realized color crayons are for creating, not consuming. I’ll make room for additional masterpieces from that little guy, as well, by way of purchasing bigger and better magnets—or a bigger and better refrigerator with more cubic inches of display space.
Better yet, I’ll stock up on storage containers. I’ll add to my Rubbermaid collection, because I’ll eventually have even more grandchildren and even more masterpieces to curate. And because, despite what you may have been told, even hoarders can be neat and tidy.
Lisa Carpenter is a mother, grandmother and writer of the blog Grandma's Briefs. You can read more of her musings at Grandmasbriefs.com
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