Saturday, October 7, 2017

Day Seven:
Checking Inside Those Old Envelopes

Sometimes it pays to be compulsive about looking inside those old envelopes. Yes, I know: it slows down progress. But even if one slip of important documentation is rescued, it's worth the effort.

I found that one slip of paper today. Make that two.

I've made it up to "R" in my file folders—alphabetized, can't you tell?—but it was much before that stopping point when I made my discovery in this Fall Cleaning project. I use a hanging file system, so each file folder is actually suspended. It takes a little work to slip my hand inside each file folder in this cram-packed cabinet drawer, but I do it because, well, one never knows.

So, from "A" through each successive letter of the alphabet, I worked my way through each file folder, slipping my hand inside to check for papers left behind. Most were the standard paper size, so they were easy to retrieve. Some, though, were mere slips of paper—everything from old "Welcome to Prodigy" blurbs to glitzy annual retirement reports promising the howlingly ridiculous "this is how much you'll get annually if you retire at sixty six." I sent a lot of that material to the shredder stack, but the recycling bin got its fair share, as well.

And then there was this small manila envelope in the "F" file for "Family Papers." A business-sized envelope, it contained only two documents. One was my husband's first official birth certificate—the kind where the hospital inks the baby's feet to make footprints on the page, just below the section for "Family History" (and right above the stern advice that "this certificate should be carefully preserved; it is an important record of the facts pertaining to your child's birth"). The other item was a copy of my father-in-law's untimely 1966 death certificate.

Being organized may have its pluses, but in our case, one of those points wasn't necessarily the ability to put our fingers on our important documents the minute we needed them. I can't tell you how many times we've wondered whatever happened to those items. Perhaps it's because we actually have too many filing systems—more than one place to keep those things. They are, after all, important papers. Sometimes, though, those backup plans get forgotten entirely. See? It's good to clean out everything once in a while.

Even better to check every folder and envelope before assuming they are empty enough to be tossed in the trash.

Above: "The Washerwomen of Bougival," 1875 oil on canvas by Impressionist landscape artist Alfred Sisley; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. I have one hanging file with a red folder in it for such important "stuff". You make me feel guilty, I have files that need to be gone over too! BUT it is a long Minnesota winter:)

    1. Yes! And I know you will put that long Minnesota winter to good use, Far Side! No need to feel guilty. Your to-do list, and the way you dispatch it pronto, puts mine to shame.

      I like your red file folder idea. I'm a color-coding fan, too.

  2. Checking envelopes is always important. We have many times found old birthday cards with money inside!


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