Why We Love Our "Stuff" And The Stories It Tells with Lisa Tracy

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It is hard to let go of things - so much so that in the U.S. we spend more than twenty billion dollars a year on self-storage units. Besides dealing with our own stuff, many of us are finding we are also dealing with our parents’ and grandparents’ stuff as they pass on. So many of these objects remind us of stories: stories of our childhood, and stories of the history of our families. No wonder it is hard to let them go. In telling her own story of letting go of several households of furnishings, Lisa Tracy is enormously helpful to us as we grapple with the "stuff" of our lives. She understands the stories inside the “stuff”. She says, "I think that it takes enormous emotional and mental energy to deal with our things. Why? Because we put ourselves, we put our lives, we put our stories, and in a sense we put our family into the objects." (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Lisa Tracy is a journalist and the former Home & Design editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. She now lives in Lexington, Virginia, where she teaches creative nonfiction.

She is the author of:

If you'd like to learn more about the work of Lisa Tracy go to www.objectsofouraffection.com.

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • Why we are so attached to our things
  • How the furnishings of our parents and grandparents are special icons for us
  • How writing this book helped to let go of things, allowing a space for others to steward them
  • How small local museums can be helpful in researching family history
  • Why is storytelling intrinsic for humans, particularly in the southern U.S.
  • What is it like to do an auction of one's family furnishings
  • How simple objects from our childhood can help us begin the grieving process

    Host: Justine Willis Toms         Interview Date: 7/27/2010       Program Number: 3371

    Music Playlist

    From Album: Oracle
    Artist: Michael Hedges
    1996 Windham Hill #CSL 02

    Opening Essay: Track 01 The 2nd Law
    Music Break 1: Track 05 Jitterboogie
    Music Break 2: Track 02 Ignition
    Music Break 3: Track 07 Gospel