Monthly Archives: February 2008

Is being a “pack-rat” genetic or learned?

After visiting my parent’s house, I was re-reminded that my mom has become her mother. I tend to forget the condition of their house not being “local” anymore.

Parent's family room
A view of the parent’s family room

My grandmother was a pack-rat. When she died at the end of 2004, it took my mom and her sisters almost FIVE MONTHS to go through all the stuff in my grandmother’s house. Every weekday for FIVE MONTHS! By “stuff” I mean many of the common household and personal items as would be expected. And then there is the obscure: collections of old, green foam meat trays; old photos of people no one in the family knows who they are; old newspapers from decades ago; old crucifii (would that be the plural of crucifix?) and other catholic paraphernalia.

Fast-forward to the present. My parent’s house. To start with, there is dust everywhere–dust covering mounds of papers and “stuff”. Stuff just like my grandmother’s “stuff”. Piles of old newspapers, old magazines, stuff from us as kids, some of the stuff from my grandparents, etc.

My dad is a little eccentric. He is a “collector”. He collects expensive things at least, but the condition is the same. There are hundreds of old soda trays and signs, old enameled signs, old wooden tools, carbide lamps, oriental rugs, etc. These items are displayed throughout the house, but also with a light coating of dust. Then there is every automobile ever owned sitting somewhere out on the property.

It has been pointed out by my “better” half that I am becoming like my parents–I tend to not let things go once I have “collected” it: a stack of old computer stuff that I should just recycle; old books that I will never read a second time; my first car. I have become more conscious about it in the last few years, and have endeavored to get rid of things I have collected. But how to break the actual collecting “cycle”?

How do these things happen? What causes this?

Until next time...