Friday, November 14, 2008

Packrats and Clutterbugs

I didn’t think I was a packrat. Recently though, at the back of closets, I discovered bits and pieces of the past in packets tied with string, banded boxes, and slightly rusted tins. In November, I usually write a column on pies, family and stuff. That column about holiday pastries -- making, eating, and enjoying them -- will come in the next week or so. This one is about stuff. So, Packrats, be warned.

We’re getting ready to move into a “downsized” home. The one we’re living in is not extravagant in square footage, but it’s comfortable. Now it’s time to undo over 20 years of living at this address. I don’t mind giving away plastic containers, extra clothes hangers, and glass jars, but other items might as well be shelved in my heart. While sorting items into piles for garage sale, family members, the trash, or the new farmhouse, I found a small cardboard jewelry box.

Inside were movie tickets and one of those photos taken in a booth, long ago, in the dating years. Inside the lid of this small box was this inscription, “Date to remember, September 19, 1965.” The whole box and contents would have been tossed by a junk dealer. I showed it to my hubby, causing us to reminisce.

One wouldn’t think that cleaning out house cubby holes involved so many emotions, but it does. Guilt assaults, if I throw away a tea pot, broken and no longer holding high teas — because it was a gift. I read a note from a friend who passed, and tears brimmed. Laughter bubbled when I saw funny photos of Halloween costumes.

This is a job I’d rather have delayed indefinitely, however my husband, David, and I made a firm decision to not only downsize the house but contents, too. Abundance doesn’t equal happiness. Clutter doesn’t equal coziness, it just equals clutter.

In the future, hubby and I want to have time for each other, not store and live with long defunct paperwork. We want to walk in the woods with the grandchildren, not mop more floors or dust more baubles. We want to dine with friends, not mow more acreage. We want to meet new people, not hang onto old stuff.

Jesus, who had few material possessions said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

We can even be greedy about clutter. Packrats, the kind with two legs, go through your home before Thanksgiving, lay out all the things you think family could use. Let them free-shop at your house after the Turkey dinner. A niece might love that old cracked hand mirror of Aunt Irene’s or maybe not.

That tiny box with the date inscription, we’re holding onto -- it’s the date of our first kiss.

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