Who Am I Saving This Stuff for Anyway?

Deliberating over the fate of childhood toys, trophies, and trinkets

Rachel Levy Lesser
Moms Don’t Have Time to Write
5 min readMar 29, 2021


Throughout this past year, I have spent a considerable amount of time cleaning out my house. I can hear my family laughing as I write this because, in truth, I spend a considerable amount of time every year cleaning out my house.

Channeling my inner Marie Kondo, I recalled the joy that my childhood dollhouse brought to me and thanked it for the memories. And then I took a hammer to its roof (which I had long ago shingled piece by piece with my own hands) smashing it to bits, stuffing it into a giant Hefty trash bag, and leaving it on the curb.

Being the only daughter and granddaughter of women with vast collections of dishes, linens, rugs — you name it — I inherited heaps of these beautiful items. While I still use some, and find joy in others, I have learned how to part with things that don’t serve me anymore— happily jettisoning several place settings for twelve, embroidered table runners, and monogrammed napkins.

But this year I had a different focus. I set out to tackle my kids’ stuff. And by kids I mean my seventeen-year-old son, who is the tallest person in our family (and we are tall people), and my fifteen-year-old daughter, who makes fun of me in a more sophisticated way than any adult ever has.

When I was in my early twenties, my mother called me at work one day and told me to come home before the end of the month or she would get rid of everything in my childhood bedroom. I imagined her burning the classics I read in high school, my treasured camp songbooks, and my beloved dollhouse. I arrived home in time to save the classics, which now live on my family room bookshelves. The camp songbooks are in boxes in my basement and the dollhouse, well, it had a different fate.

Conversely, my mother-in-law saved just about everything from my husband’s childhood. When we had kids of our own, she busted out his Sesame Street and Muppet figurines, his sister’s play kitchen, and a giant collection of 1970s board books. These 30-year-old toys entertained my kids for hours on end when we visited (even though I was never fully convinced that 70s Big Bird didn’t contain lead paint).