is there a hoarding gene?

Second son removed the last of his belongings today (apart from a few boxes which he will come back for on a date as yet unspecified) and to JP it appears that our son has thrown little away since he was old enough to lay claim to his own books and toys and that this reluctance to dispose of anything makes him a ‘hoarder’. The blame for this is laid firmly at my genetic door since JP and first son do not hoard, each claiming to be able to pack their total belongings in no more than a couple of hours. The fact that I recently discovered three forgotten sets of salt and pepper grinders in the kitchen cupboards and that I keep any decent sized plastic container that comes my way cannot be considered as conclusive proof that I am a hoarder. A dictionary definition of ‘hoard’ is ‘to accumulate money, food, or the like, in a hidden or carefully guarded place for preservation or future use’ but since my accumulations are neither hidden nor carefully guarded, I would argue the hoarder label.

When the boys were young, I was a stay-at-home mum and there was no spare money for much beyond the essentials so it was a bonus to be able to make things and to find ways to re-use things that might otherwise be thrown away. I also became quite proficient at DIY and saved off-cuts of wood because I never knew when we might suddenly need a shelf or a new swing seat or fuel for the barbeque.

Those years probably explain my thrift hangover and the need to keep most of all lidded plastic containers that come into the house. Once their original intended use is over, they’re fantastic for dried fruit and pulses or for freezing home-made stock, sauces or an extra meal portion -0 the list is virtually endless. 2-litre ice cream tubs have been used for storing small game parts, Lego bricks, Playmobile figures, fridge magnets, key-ring and lapel badge collections as well as curtain rail fitments, rawlplugs and loose drill bits and some of them are still in use, more than twenty years later. Jam jars are terrific for storing things under shelves (nail or screw the lid to the shelf underside and then screw the jar to the lid).



You surely have to agree now that I’m not a hoarder and neither is second son. He is a collector – of comics, films, sketch pads and other things of which I am not aware. I am a saver, who was brought up to think that it was wasteful to replace something that was still fully functional, (condiment grinders obviously excluded) and I was a recycler before it became trendy to be one. I ‘save’ something because it might come in handy one day (purpose possibly unknown at the point of deciding to save) or I might be able to use it in a craft project or because it’s always good to have a spare. I don’t have a problem with this. My accumulations are regularly weeded but I’m in a quandry as to what the growing stack of Persil and Fairy liquitab containers in the kitchen can be used for. I’ve already used loads for beads and jewellery findings and spare washing-up cloths and decanting of paint and goodness knows what but I’m sure I could find even more uses for them. They’re just too good to bin! Ideas will come to me in time but feel free to offer suggestions meantime and I’d love to know if and what you hoard or rather, save….

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