In CategoryAdventure, Navel Gazing

This business of getting rid of stuff is odd.

On one hand it’s quite liberating – with every trip to the thrift store, I feel the weight of things lifting off my shoulders, bit by bit.

How nice it is to go into the basement, which used to be crammed full of crap, and see nothing but wide open space.

No more collections of fancy gift wrap being saved for that barely possible moment when I meet someone sophisticated enough to appreciate it.

No more baskets of toys that had been taken away because “you didn’t pick up the playroom, so now these will live in the basement for a week” only to have been forgotten about completely.

No more…..what? I can’t even really remember what all that stuff was now. Tablecloths and fancy cloth napkins. A truly awe-inspiring amount of Christmas decorations, vases, platters, dishes….all rarely used, but needed nevertheless, in case I suddenly switch from the person who eats pizza on the couch in jammies to the person who has fancy dinner parties.

Seems unlikely at this late date, though, don’t you think? I’m better off accepting my jammie-wearing, teevee-watching, party-loathing self and getting on with it.

On the other hand, there have been many, many, moments when I’ve put down my head and cried, unable to stop the flood of emotions that pour over me as I go through certain boxes, unable to make yet one more decision about what to keep, what to not. I have literally bins FULL of baby clothes, and a plan in my head to make a quilt out of them. How much to keep? I couldn’t get rid of it all, but going through boxes, I couldn’t even remember some of the tiny clothes. When did that happen? So, half was bagged up to bless some other family shopping at my favorite thrift store, and half carefully packed first into giant zippy baggies, then into plastic bins to go to the tiny storage unit that will house all the things we can’t bear to part with.

I have developed a rule of thumb for what to keep. We’ve decided that this adventure will last for at least a year, but recent negotiations have revealed that no one thinks we will be done by then. For all we know, we’ll love it and decide to carry on indefinitely. With that in mind, we are only keeping things that are truly special, things we will want in 1 or 2 or 5 years – boxes of memories, artwork, very few pieces of furniture, and all the toys that the kids will not be taking. We are keeping the toys as a purely appeasing gesture, because while we know they will have outgrown those things, they don’t know that yet and they want their stuff safe. Which I can certainly understand. I mean, who taught them to like stuff? Probably the same idiots who crammed an entire basement full of things that didn’t get used.

The house, of course, is the biggest weight. When did it become such a burden to maintain? We love our house, it’s just right for us. But constantly noticing the paint is looking a little rough, and weeds are infesting the grass, and are we EVER going to fix that doorknob already? is wearing thin.

I cannot WAIT for the moment of freedom, when we pull out of the driveway for the last time. Our obligations whittled down to barely nothing, our little family tucked snuggly into the car, when I can turn around and ask, “so guys, where shall we go?”


11 Responses to “Stuff”

  1. John Myste Says:

    OMG! This is like a revelation to me. I am going to start now, and not stop until I get rid of all my stuff.

    Thank you!

    By the way, I will soon be in the same condition as a family whose house just burned down, so if you have any items you still don’t want, think of me.
    John Myste´s last blog post ..Speaking in Tongues, God Tells Me to Hate Homosexuals

  2. Deb Says:

    You are quite odd, John Myste.

  3. Tressa Says:

    It is hard to get rid of special things. After our first move, I realized that I did not like unpacking stuff. I then became a tosser. I have a few rules. I have allowed myself one bin of baby things. It holds their baby books, going home outfits, a pair of shoes, and a few other things. I also have allowed one bin for all the special things they have made. It is jam packed. I could probably toss most of it, but I can’t. My dad recently gave me a box full of my elementary school papers. I spent 30 minutes going through them, and then I threw them away. He was so mad at me. But you know, I didn’t care about them. It kind of woke me up. Are my kids really going to care about the Thanksgiving headband they made in Kindergarten when they are 30? Probably not because they will be too busy collecting their own kids’ junk. 🙂

    Anyway, all of this to say. I know. It is hard. But what an adventure you are going to have. You are going to make awesome memories! A wise woman who is now with Jesus told me once that it was OK that she didn’t have her home anymore. She had all the memories stored in her heart, and she treasured those much more.
    Tressa´s last blog post ..More Mt. Rainier (if you can stand it)

  4. Kristy Says:

    I can not even imagine what you are going through. Although as indicated by past actions, I would not have such difficulty getting rid of belongings. I do not become too attached to things. My husband, on the other hand, would die with every item that was discarded. It would be a never ending battle.

    The house situation still stinks. I am praying for a buyer for you. I want your adventure to begin!
    Kristy´s last blog post ..Chaska Black

  5. SaraB Says:

    Every few years we go through a huge purge. Last year we got rid of probably half of what we owend, including all baby items save some special clothes and the kids’ bassinett. Because we were DONE. For sure DONE. Hubby was scheduled for a snip snip next month. So guess who popped up preggers this weekend? This will mean a 7.5 year age gap between kid number 2 and 3. Moral of this story? Purging may lead to pregancy so be very very careful.

  6. Deb Says:

    WHAT?!? Congratulations! A new baby – so exciting!

    Congratulations again! Have fun! Sleep now!

    (we snip-snipped a while back, so no danger there.)

  7. tracey Says:

    Heh. A snip snip doesn’t guarantee anything. It’s just a much better percentage rate… 😉

    I can’t imagine purging so much at once. Not at all. I hold importance on the things that have thoughts and words and memories. So I have a lot of pictures, letters, postcards, etc. I could never part with them. Not voluntarily, anyway.

    I can also never imagine pitching my stuff from my childhood like Tressa! I LOVE getting the old bits and pieces from my youth! They’re like little treasures and I adore it all.
    tracey´s last blog post ..My 5 year old swiped my camera

  8. Eddie Says:

    I love purging when we move ( but I detest packing). I always end up wondering why we kept the box full of magnet letter with no magnets left in them, or the purple polyester tablecloth that I don’t remember ever seeing before.
    Eddie´s last blog post ..Weekly Wrap-up – what a great week.

  9. Rose Says:

    I’m sorry!! I know how tough this is!!! I’ve done it before and will need to do it again…..probably in the not so distant future… I apply next fall to grad schools out of state…..I’m already freaking out about the whole thing. But stuff is not the true memories of being a family, the new experiences will be.
    Rose´s last blog post ..Field Trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art

  10. Michelle Says:

    I had those back and forth emotions after we lost a ton of stuff in a flood. The purge was very freeing, but yeah, it’s hard to part with stuff. Even stuff that shouldn’t be important.
    Michelle´s last blog post ..Football Geography

  11. Kirsten is Comfortably Domestic Says:

    When we moved into our house 5 years ago, I did a major purge: every closet, cupboard, drawer, and storage area. I only moved things that I loved and “needed” to keep. Now we are doing another giant purge, and a lot of the stuff that I “loved” before the move but has remained in boxes is being ousted.

    As far as kids stuff goes, I keep 2-3 special writings or artwork for each kid per year to keep in a *small* storage container. When they move out, they get the box to do with as they will. That quelled the outcries for not keeping every little piece of paper/project that they do throughout the year.

    We are a little more ruthless with toys. We have many boxes of stuff they wouldn’t pick up and need to earn back. If they don’t earn it back within the month, the stuff gets donated to other children that don’t have a lot of toys. You can only keep so many cubic tons of plastic.
    Kirsten is Comfortably Domestic´s last blog post ..A Journey, a Revelation, and an Unveiling