|Adding pictures of our stained glass lamps because they are prettier than the boxes and boxes of stuff I'm dealing with.|
George Carlin's hilarious and all too-true stand up routine on Stuff has a quote that is ringing very true to me these last six months: "A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff."
Well, here we are in mid-April and things are starting to get real up in here. I've been going through forty-one years worth of stuff we've accumulated and all I can say at this point is, HELP! Where did it all come from? Though our remodeling project won't be starting until sometime in June or later, I've been working on sorting through our stuff since last fall.
Ann has come over to help when she has some spare time, bless her heart, but she has precious little time to spare being the busy woman she is.
Trying to be methodical, I more or less pick one room at a time. I've finally finished working on the Christmas closet last week. The closet isn't very big, really, since it has a chimney inside of it, but it measures roughly four feet wide by three feet deep, but as I said, there's a chimney in the middle, so not all of the space is usable. I should look on the bright side, though, because if there was more room in it, there would be more stuff.
I will readily admit I am not an organized person. For years I've vowed every Christmas that I would sort through the boxes and get them organized, but then the holiday would sneak up on me and I'd concentrate on just getting the tree up and promise myself I'd deal with the mess when I took it back down again, but for the same reason I'm not fifty pounds lighter, I had yet another excuse in January. I'll sort through it next Christmas, truly I will. For now, eh, just put it all back in the boxes and if the door shuts on the closet, it's a win-win.
It's tough for me because the majority of the decorations I've kept were my late mother's and I am a sentimental dimwit. When Carl and I married, my mother gleefully lugged out the old suitcases she had stored her Christmas ornaments in and said, "Here you go! I have no more need for these, I'm done putting up a big tree."
And, true to her word, at the age of fifty-eight, she was indeed done. She downsized to a tiny tabletop tree and never looked back.
I, on the other hand, was young and dumb. I could have stopped with my mom's decorations, but did I? Oh no. Over the years, I added more of my own. Too many more. We do not have the space for a big tree anyway, so I don't know why I fell for every bauble that caught my eye during the Christmas season for at least a decade, but I did.
I finally came to my senses at around the age of thirty-five, but by then my collection was really out of hand. And here I am at sixty-one, wondering what I was thinking way back when. I thinned out a lot of the decorations before packing them off to temporary storage at Carl's folks' house for now. My goal is to sort through them again before we bring the boxes back home after the remodel and pare things down for good. (We'll see how that goes! Will I actually do it??)
Throughout this whole house cleanout, I kinda have a system. I sort through things in our house and categorize them by destination: charity shop, recycling, dumpster, or pack up and save. Then when I cannot stand one more minute of making the tough decisions, we load up and take the donations in to the big city.
Our next stop is back to our home to load up the boxes of stuff we're keeping and haul them to the in-law's house.
Once the car is empty again, we start the process over at Carl's parent's house and their six decades of household goods. I'm slowly getting through one room at a time there, too. We do the same routine, sorting through everything and determining what should be kept and what needs to go. In no time we have the car full again for another run to the charity shop. We try to work it out so Carl can haul loads in after work during the week. When he gets home at night we fill the car up again for the next day's run.
It is truly amazing how much stuff gets accumulated isn't it? For months our house has been full of boxes coming and going. Thank goodness Joel and Abby kept their moving boxes for us, it's made the chore much easier.
The only thing that I'm really happy about is the fact that hopefully I will whittle down our stuff enough so that when we leave here for the last time in our lives, our sons won't have to deal with as much junk. I've completely changed my philosophy on collecting much of anything anymore. In fact, when I walk through stores now, all I see is stuff that will eventually be destined for the landfill. So much stuff!
My mother had downsized when she was in her seventies, and though I have yet to go entirely through her belongings, she had everything tidy, in order, and only kept what she was actually using. I won't have to wade through decades of stuff at her house, thank goodness. I mentally thank Mom every day for her forethought. She did me such a wonderful favor. I want to do the same for my own kids, it's only fair.
Carl and I have never seen eye to eye on stuff, but even he has now come around somewhat to the futility of keeping everything for 'someday'. When we die, no one will want our old clothes that no longer fit, no one will darn the socks that need mending or the jeans that have holes in them. No one will want 99% of any of the junk. It's just the way it goes.
I think even Carl has reached a saturation point with keeping everything; you can only deal with it for so many hours a day before you start to lose a, shall we say, cheerful countenance? He's actually parting with more things than I thought possible, so maybe there is hope. (More on how tough this process can be on a marriage at another time....)
My friend Sharon had gone through a move a few years ago after she and her husband built their gorgeous new home. They also had to deal with their forty years of stuff, so she knows exactly what we're going through. Sharon recommended that if time runs out, we just box up everything and deal with it later, when the construction here is done. That's sort of what I did with the Christmas stuff already. I thank Sharon for her words of wisdom on a daily basis.
Our friend and neighbor, Gloria is in her seventies and has also recently moved from her house to a different home. She stopped in last week with a few prayers for me to read when the going gets tough. I didn't even flinch when I let her in the house since she knows all too well what moving a house looks like. She simply removed a couple of boxes and a roll of garbage bags from the dining room chair and sat down for a short visit. We laughed about the process and how silly keeping all of this stuff is and afterwards, I felt a lot lighter.
I guess this is sort of like the Konmari method of cleaning after all. I just wasn't ready to clean out two houses at once as it does get a bit overwhelming, but hey, progress not perfection.
We'll get there.
As Steven Wright said, "You can't have everything. Where would you put it?"