Today my family and I dug into the basement to sort through 19 years of accumulated memories stuffed into plastic tubs and cardboard boxes. It was a chore we we’re all dreading because the task before us was immense. I knew I would be in pain after carrying up tub after tub of things we no longer had use for but still an attachment to.
Even the silliest thing can bring back a flood of memories and remind me of times in my children’s lives, and my life as a parent, that I had totally forgotten about.
There were things that my mom had bought our daughter and I kept many of those. She passed away when I was pregnant with my son. There were things that my father-in-law had bought for his grandkids, and many of those were kept as well. He passed away last year.
That’s why so much of the stuff had remained in the basement. Cleaning out those old things was like giving away part of who we had been as a family, and letting go of things that reminded us of family members we had lost.
We all took it in a different way. My husband was quick to toss most everything because most of the stuff didn’t have much meaning to him. He’s worked 60 to 70-hour weeks for pretty much our entire marriage. He simply wasn’t around the kids that much, especially when they were very young. For me, I can remember so much more. Seeing a book I read to my daughter, when she was a baby, had so much more meaning for me. It was hard to let go.
It was most difficult on our 9-year old son, who wasn’t too happy to see so many toys packed up and given away. It was kind of traumatic for him, though he still has enough toys for about ten kids.
Even our teenage daughter got nostalgic and for the first hour or so we only managed to put about eight items, out of about four thousand, in the “donate” box. We realized we were going to have to be a little less sentimental and let things go, or we’d never be rid of the clutter.
I did well until we actually unloaded everything at the thrift store. Seeing so many familiar items of our lives sitting on a lonely loading dock was sad, sadder than I had imagined but goodbyes always are.
I’m proud of myself because I only saved one plastic tub of items, mostly baby toys, and they will stay with me until I’m gone. If I ever have grandkids, they’ll get to play with them.
I don’t regret getting rid of those things because, after all, they are just things and I know life has to keep moving forward. More importantly, as I have gotten older, I’ve been around long enough to know that every year is a “wonder year”. I can look back on my 20s and 30s with the same amount of wonder as my childhood. I can look back on the hard times with just as much amazement and gratitude as I have for the good. It’s funny how time does that.
There are so many more years to experience and appreciate. Lord willing. There are so many more things to accumulate in my basement. Lord forbid!