Here's what I did after crying over the ashtray:
Looked at the clock, saw it was after 2 pm, realized I hadn't had any lunch, and recognized that I had been hauling out and washing and deciding on stuff for several hours and that maybe it was time to a) eat and b) stop.
So I cleared a place to eat at the dining room table, quickly reheated some leftovers so I could get to the eating, and dined while reading the Sunday paper. Then M3I and Charlie came home and I took Charlie skating, then we went to a coffee shop after, and came home on the subway and bus (fun for Charlie!).
As we went around the rink, I felt differently about the old ashtray, now that I was out in the world, watching my lad slowly master the art of skating. I'm not a little kid in the old family room, ignorant of the traumas of the world. I'm a strong, healthy, productive, kind and loving middle-aged woman. I have a good life and a lovely family and a nice gradually-becoming-less-cluttered home.
So when Charlie and I got to that home, I emailed my brother - who has a lot more space - and asked him if he'd like the ashtray. If he doesn't want it, I'll ask my bro who lives out west. If neither want it, it's going to goodwill. I mean I don't even know how long I've had the thing packed away in my boxes. I don't remember my folks' giving it to me. I have 8 zillion other little dishes and bowls that are more attractive.
I think it's important to realize that this decluttering thing is a process. I can't get through the hardest part of the process - my china - all in one day. (I'd also planned to vacuum and clean the main bathroom. Righty-ho!) It's hard work. It's also emotional work, and I have to recognize that when I'm overwhelmed to the point of weeping (plus I needed FOOD), it's time to stop.
But I'm plugging away, right? I've been at this for weeks now. I'm on it. Bit by bit, I'm getting there, and I'm making it easier to stay on top of all this stuff in our lives going forward.