Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom
My Grandfather passed almost exactly eight years ago, a few years after the passing of my Grandmother. They had lived on the same farm their whole married life – 64 years – although a few decades ago they built a new house steps from the old, drafty one, and knocked the old house down. Sixty-four years worth of living and six now adults kids’ worth of memories in that house. My cousins, who already had a houseful, were moving in. I helped my family try to organize the house and to make room for the cousins’ belongings.
At the end of my time in Iowa, I had a small pile of treasures – some useful items and some keepsakes – that I loaded into a picnic basket and shipped home to myself. Plus I had a wedding ring that belonged to my Great Grandmother. I put the wedding ring on my ring finger, and it’s stayed there ever since. (Ironically, I’ve learned since that she and her husband were hoarders, with the sort of house you had to weave a path through!) The rest of the stuff was waiting for me when I got home. Without opening it, I put the picnic basket in the bottom of my closet, and there it sat – noticed but unopened – for eight years. Why? I’m not sure. I can’t claim I forgot about it: My closet isn’t deep, and it’s sitting right there, in front. At first, I was sad about the passing of two of my favorite people. Then I guess habit just took over, and the picnic basket sat and sat, until last week when Audra wanted to see what was inside. I confess: It was as much of a treasure hunt for me as it was for the girls. It occurred to me that on a very small scale, this picnic basket was a lot like some of those storage units that we discussed last week.
I remembered that I had packed all the photos of my immediate family that I had come across, as well as letters from us that Grandma had saved. Here’s what else there was that I did not remember, at all: a pearl necklace, a plain woman’s watch that I do not remember my Grandmother wearing, a vinyl table cloth, a large piece of children’s fabric, a baby’s Baptism gown, two cafeteria style divided trays, a yellowed Yahtzee score pad, a bag of checkers, a piece of now molded embroidery, and a single plain cloth napkin. All I could think was: What in the world?
I put the tablecloth, the cafeteria trays, and the watch straight into the thrift store box. I can imagine that eight years ago I thought these items could be useful (mat for under the baby’s highchair, toddler dinner plates, utilitarian time piece). The embroidery went into the trash, and the napkin joined the others in the cabinet. I washed the fabric for a project that I plan to do with the girls, although I’m mystified as to what I had originally imagined I would do with it. Whose Baptism gown is this? The pearls I put into my jewelry box, the checkers pieces went upstairs because Clara thought she’d lost a piece from our set, and I put the Yahtzee pad in our game box, although we’re certainly am not in danger of running out of score sheets. But why, I have to ask myself, were these the things that I thought I needed or wanted from my Grandparent’s house? Except for the photos, letters and Baptism gown, these items obviously weren’t saved as keepsakes; I thought they were useful and valuable. Time passed, I didn’t use them, and now they’re garage sale fodder.
Next time you’re in a store, at a garage sale, or cleaning out a box that you’re struggling with, ask yourself, “If I’d not seen this item for 8 years, would I know the difference? Would I care? If I bought it today and put it away without using it, would I use it in a year or two when I got it back out?” They answer might be yes, but I think more likely, it will be no.
Today’s Declutter Item
I picked up this fishing tackle box at a garage sale years ago in Seattle. It got used to store nuts and bolts and the like. Last week my husband was bored so he had a little garage clean up, emptied all the nut and bolts out of it and I sent the box to the thrift shop. Now I just have to figure out what to put the nuts and bolts in so I can take them to the thrift shop. Perhaps we should have sent it as a job lot. Oh well, live and learn.
Something I Am Grateful For Today
Once again I am grateful to my parents for being the kind of handy folk who fixed things rather than through them away and purchase a new one. I am thankful because they handed those skills down to me. Today I had to once again do a repair on my son’s backpack. Theres is another $50 I didn’t have to spend and another item saved from landfill.
“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast