There’s the Curse of Clutter, But There’s Also the Gift of a Full Attic

It can be a pain to inherit the overwhelming clutter of another generation. And my generation (or perhaps generation X) will have perhaps adopted enough minimalist habits that it will pass on less of itself to the next kids to come along.

I suppose that’s alright – decluttering has its benefits. But those of us with experience in big attics might see things differently.

Aside from the dust and the mothball smell, there’s something exciting in an attic full of random, unpredictable bits of the past. Short of having a wardrobe that goes to Narnia, an old attic is one of the best portals a young person can ask for.

Assuming a family is interesting, any attic visitor will find multiple interesting lifetimes to explore: tennis rackets from the 1930s, an old military uniform, a toy train that still works, a mounted kudu buck from someone’s safari, phonograph records, journals, hats (just begging to be tried on), and more. Maybe you know the story – maybe you don’t. The mystery adds to the allure, and the desire to know your own history (and your cooler relatives). Then there’s the nostalgia and the warm comfort from seeing old things that are known and loved. These all live together in an attic that’s old enough and full enough.

Attics can provide entertainment for days (especially rainy ones), a connection to family members dead and gone, and an excellent introduction to reconstructing history from primary sources.

So – if you have the room – maybe don’t feel so bad about accumulating mementos and meaningful objects from your life. Think of a full attic as a gift: to your children, to their children, to your great-grandchildren, and to history itself. If you have attic space, accumulation (of interesting things) is sort of your job.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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