I have a maternal aunt who's a hoarder. She can't throw anything away. Not even garbage. She has stacks and stacks of stuff lining trails through her house. Mice live in those stacks. It's disturbing, unsanitary and unbelievably claustrophobic. She can't let anything go. I've heard armchair psychologists say that people like that have experienced some profound loss in their lives and now they hang onto everything. Like "this is mine, and I'm going to keep it even if it IS junk". I don't know enough about my aunt to know what the true losses in her life might have been or whether this holds true to her life experience or not. My mother looks down her nose at her sister for this trait, but doesn't understand that she has gotten a healthy dose of this herself. She just has a bigger house for her piles of stuff and no one notices it....yet.
My sister and my paternal grandmother are the exact opposite. They throw away everything. They can sweep all around their basements. Their garages are organized and clean. My sister doesn't have a knick-knack out of place.
I'd have to say I fall somewhere in between. I collect things and may hang onto things, but usually it is with an eye for finding some future owner who may need it. I sort of consider myself a broker in that respect. Getting rid of a couch? Bring it to my house. I'll find someone who needs it. I don't think the recipients mind that I collect stuff. And it does give me a good feeling to know that I put together a gently worn item with a person in need.
On the other hand, my house can appear cluttered. And I do have my own issues. I hate to throw away those department store bags with nice handles. I never saw a set of sheets I didn't like. Socks. Jesus. Can we just not talk about socks? Or shampoo. It's shameless the amount of shampoo I have in my bathroom at any given moment. And I can be messy. But I'm no hoarder. At least not in the strictest sense.
Case in point. I gave Ms. Midwestia a nice calphalon pan that I hadn't used in quite a while. Maybe it was two. I can't really remember. In any event, they are gone. I've been on a mission to simply and minimize recently. I'm gathering stuff for a garage sale. I have FINALLY made real headway on getting rid of the stuff in my closets. It's taken me a few years to let some really nice clothes go, but I have to face the fact that I've changed professions and I'm unlikely to ever need business suits again. And I really can't decided whether or not I need those old college texts or not. At least I have only hung on to the botany related texts. I have no idea if I will ever consult them again when I'm planning classes. (Any advice on this is greatly appreciated, but they really are space hogs.)
Then there are the things I enjoy collecting. Cook books. Plants. Interesting plates. Coffee mugs from my travels.
I have a house guest coming for two weeks. Luckily, over the past month, I cleaned out my office (which WAS beginning to look like the start of a good hoarding lifestyle). It is now the cleanest room in my house. I think I'm going to move my futon in there so my guest has a bed and a private room.
Now, if I can just find a home for some of this stuff!