Friday, January 8, 2016

Say Cheese!

     My favorite way to celebrate the beginning of a new year is to clean up, clean out, and have a project to look forward to. Once the Christmas tree and decorations are put away and the house is dusted and put back in order, I'm ready to tackle something big. This year I decided it was time to tackle the basement. When we moved my mom here last summer, we added a truckload of her stuff to our already cluttered basement. We have the space to spare for storage, but my problem is that when my home and life are cluttered, then my brain feels cluttered and I begin to feel anxious. It was time to face the mess we created and try to bring some order to it. I knew from experience that I would feel so good when it's all done.
     The photo, however, is an example of the problem I'm dealing with. (By the way, when I photographed these guys, I was cracking up.) I have so much sentimental junk, all of it worthless other than the value of the memories it conjures. These trolls were my playthings in elementary school. They all have specific personalities, as do all toys with faces. Dolls, stuffed animals, figurines; if a toy has a face then to me, it's 'real'. It's impossible for me to look them in the eye and send them off to the landfill or to Goodwill. It provokes a guilty conscience in me that I'm betraying them somehow. I may need psychotherapy more than I need moving boxes, haha!
     I found the driving force I needed from my own words to my mother during the events of this week. The changes in her life over these past seven months have all been about letting go. This week we made the last step of closing on the sale of her home. This final act of letting go is very sad for her and bittersweet for me and my sister. Every childhood memory is contained in that home and it's time to let it go. As my mother cried and we talked, I made the comment that where we are going we can't take it with us, nor will we want it! It sounds cliche, but it's true and it can be the release to letting go of earthly baggage in preparation for a much bigger journey later on.
     The second motivator for me to get rid of these sentimental loads of stuff is the fact that I'm dealing with all the stuff my parents couldn't or wouldn't get rid of. They grew up during the Great Depression and every string and piece of whatever held value. If not value, then it at least had potential to be used for something later on. For example, my father made a birdbath out of the agitator of an old wringer washing machine. He saved everything! Why our baby dolls hung by their necks from his basement rafters until their eyes mildewed green and creeped out my daughters when we visited is beyond me. I can only chalk it up to my dad's sense of humor... and the need to keep everything.  I will not do this to my children. I cannot leave them a headache to clean up. I hope my legacy will be to make their lives simpler, not more complicated when I exit.
     "I can't take it with me." I repeated those words over and over as I bagged up the trolls and all sorts of paraphernalia to haul out of here. We texted our daughters on a few items to be sure it was okay with them that it was going. Daughter #3 replied, "Get rid of it all!!!" (With exactly three exclamation points.) Finally, Steve spent hours last evening with a paper shredder. Between our home filing cabinet and moving his office he had several bagfuls of shredder- jamming paper. We have begun 2016 feeling much lighter of "stuff" this day. I don't think I have much of a guilty conscience either!

All these trolls are from the mid to late 1960's. I think the marketers were tapping the hippie movement here : )


  1. I can so understand everything you posted about here, Lee. When we cleared put my parents and my childhood home this past year, after my mother's death, it was the same situation. My parents were also "savers" and to some extent I am as well. My mother couldn't let go of many things in her lifetime, including memories that weren't shared. It was bittersweet and also sad for my brother and myself to find things we wish we knew about during our parents' lifetimes.

  2. This is crazy, but I have a two-headed troll doll with red hair that I kept from, I think, early teenage years. I have trunk in my bedroom full of memorabilia things like that - I should probably purge, too.

    It's hard saying goodbye to your childhood home - my sister Jo and I had a hugging big cry on the last day. It's hard. Hugs to you!

  3. Oh my goodness...I just went through this too. Is it the faces? ...I did better with other things. When we downsized, I didn't want to cram what we had in our new house. I wanted less stuff and I found myself deciding not between something I liked and didn't like, but between two things I liked. And I thought about heaven, and eternity and things my folks had and things we let go of from their homes. It was exhausting. And very good. I know I will read this again. I'm storing up my treasures in heaven.

  4. ahh love the memories these little creatures have given me