Organizing Blog

De-Cluttering Brings Blessings as Large as an Elephant


I have been working with a family who has strong sentimental ties to their things. Surprised? Of course you’re not. This is very common and as a professional organizer, I get to help families work through this all the time. Most likely there are things in your home that you have strong sentimental ties to as well. These items may remind you of a special loved one who has passed away, of a time in your life when you felt successful, of a happy memory from a trip you took. We all keep things that are special to us. The challenge is when you’ve collected more things than you have room for.

I want to tell you the story of the stuffed elephant. Years ago, the daughter had attended a circus with a family friend. At the end of the day she came home with stories of trapeze artists, clowns, and lions, and in her arms she held a large stuffed elephant. What a great memory. What a good time she had. What a large elephant she could now look at to remember that fun afternoon. Years passed. The elephant has shifted from room to room throughout the house. You see, he’s kind of big, so he tends to get in the way. The mom isn’t a big fan of it, but she holds onto it because of the special memory. The little girl grows up and her interests turn to fashion, school, and sports. As I work with her to go through the things in her room, she hesitatingly says that she is deciding to let the elephant go. It’s fun, but really, is she going to play with it anymore? No. “Ok,” I say, “We’ll let him find a new home.”

At the end of the day, I load my Subaru with boxes of clothing, toys, and other household items to be donated to a transitional housing community. The community is full of families who have gone through various struggles and are working very hard to get back on their feet. As I carried in the boxes of donated goods, I walked past a young mother and her 4-year-old daughter. When I passed by them on my way back through, the mother turned to her daughter and said, “Go ahead and ask her,” looking at me with a smile. I stopped, as the little girl tilted her blond head up toward me, pointed toward the stuffed elephant I had carried in and shyly asked, “Can I have that big stuffed elephant?” Her eyes were wide with anticipation and her little body wiggled with hope that I would say yes. I looked at the mom who had a kind smile, looked back at the girl, and knelt down by her. “You like that elephant?” I asked? “Yes,” she answered as she glanced toward it.

I know many of the families here arrive with little or no personal possessions. Some left abusive households, some simply couldn’t make ends meet, but all of them want the best for their families. I envision what the room may look like where this mother and daughter are living? Are they just living out of what they could bring in a suitcase? Does she have a small collection of toys? Does she have any toys?

I look at the little girl and smile, “Of course you can have this elephant. I was hoping he would find a good home, and I think he just found it. Will you take good care of him? He’s a special elephant; he came from the circus!”

“Yes!” she says as she twists & jumps with excitement.

I reach over, pick up the elephant and set him in the girl’s arms. His round grey body is twice as wide as her slender frame. She hugs him and rocks him from side to side.

“Thank you!” she exclaims with happiness in her eyes.

“You’re welcome,” I reply, while thinking, I’m not the one to thank. I wish you could thank the girl who gave it away. She would be happy to know that she gave an elephant-sized blessing to a sweet little girl.

I walk back to my car, my heart and mind reflecting on the impact that giving has on others in our own communities. Sitting down in the drivers seat, I pause, pull out my phone and call my client. Reaching their voicemail, I begin to leave a message. “I have to tell you the story of what your giving just did for a sweet little girl….”