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...

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

  1. I cured my partner of being a packrat. He was saving so much stuff from his past and it was piling up. When he was gone one trip, I went through and reorganized his entire closet, throwing old stuff away. I have a tad bit of OCD. Ok, a lot. He was against it at first, but after a while, he has become like me and only holds onto things that really and truly mean something to him. The rest, we donate to local charities and/or to friends who need things.

    Now I have to stop him sometimes from wanting to give everything away.

  2. So, is the baby carriage decorative or is it real?
    That looks like our living room when I was a kid on the farm.
    Can this cycle be broken? If you find the cure, let me know. Wes is even worse then I. I still have pieces of my first p.c. that was a 486. Sad but true…

  3. ummmmmm…..hmmmmmm…..oooooohhhhh myyyyyyy…I am at a loss for words. I work with collectors every day, but most are a bit more disciplined in their pack ratted ness than this….oh my

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