>Honey, I broke the shredder.

>I’ve been cleaning and purging the basement shelves, determined not to be a hoarder. Every time I’m waiting for the washer to fill and the detergent to dissolve, I find another basement box and attack it. I’ve managed to find and freshen books that go to school or Goodwill or Paperbackswap.com, clothes that are not suitable for anyone in the house (why did I keep these?) and go to Goodwill, and more. I’ve cleaned shelves, buckets, boxes, and done so thoughtfully. Last weekend I found an old (read: older than Amigo) box of cancelled checks.

The checks were from a savings and loan that no longer exists. It converted to a bank, then merged with another, and by now I’m sure it’s been swallowed so far it’s unrecognizable. The checks date back to the days when people would get their cancelled checks back in the mail: paper checks. Honestly, you youngsters, that’s the way it was.

I looked them over. I recognized our favorite stores for groceries and sundries. The day care centers for the young La Petite and the younger Amigo. I saw the various styles of checks and remembered that we used to take turns choosing the design each time we reordered. Teddy bears, bright colors, trains, coffee motifs, initial monograms – it was like walking through a photo album of our interests many years ago.

The account number would be irrelevant; the account was closed long ago. The address and phone number would be fifteen years outdated as well. But the checks contained our drivers’ license numbers, and I wasn’t sure if there were other identifying numbers handwritten on the memo lines.

That left the shredder. I got through about three years worth of old auto loans and everyday expenses when the shredder shrugged and shuddered and announced with a groan that it was done. I unplugged it and let it rest, thinking maybe the fine appliance was just overheated. Chuck gently tugged scraps from the blades with a needle nose pliers. The shredder works now, but only for a few sheets of paper. Destroying the rest of the checks would take months at this rate.

What to do? We did the only thing left: we lit a fire in the fireplace. Chuck crumpled the checks and added one small pile at a time to the fire. We joked about burning money. We enjoyed the ambiance and watched the Closing Ceremonies while our old money burned.

I can’t imagine the next box from the basement will contain the memories – or the challenges – that this one did. Readers, what have you found when you’ve cleaned and purged? Anything challenging? Interesting? Please share in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “>Honey, I broke the shredder.

  1. >What a funny thing to find! I have a small pile of old canceled checks–I save them for posterity.
    Doesn't the purging feel GOOD?

  2. >I'm on my third shredder for just this very reason. My husband is the hoarder and when he goes away I shred. He as stuff from 30 years ago! Why????

  3. >When we moved last year, I found a decade's worth of old receipts and checks in our storage closet. I ended up burning out one shredder in the process of dealing with it all.

    I've been in a purging/organizing/cleaning mood lately. Must mean that spring is near.

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