Monday, September 3, 2012

Simply Simplify

This is a motto that I have come to fully appreciate as I move into the second or possibly third quadrant of my life. (Who knows maybe I make it to 100 maybe I do not.  I am guessing not!) I am only speaking for myself here, but I grow antsy with the accumulation of STUFF that gathers around me in my closets, basement and garage. 

No, this is not a hoarding situation I speak of nor is it an over abundance of stuff from reckless spending sprees. This is just the accumulation of things that once served some useful purpose but no longer are deemed worthy of even a passing glance. They sit gathering dust on shelves and cupboards or in darkened boxes where the light of day never penetrates. This is the sum total of things no longer being loved, played with or displayed proudly. In short, their meaning has been lost along the way somewhere and it is time to give them all a new life, home or meaning.

We talked for years about having a massive yard sale. But the thought of gathering up all the things from their hidden hideaways, to place in our garage awaiting sale day just seemed too insurmountable a task. Plus, last time we did a massive clean up of the basement my husband wound up with a double hernia afterward. He was having surgery the day before Thanksgiving two years ago. Not fun I can assure you. 

So, we slowly started to give things away to friends and to a local charity, Families in Transition, for their use and pleasure. It felt great to see the things start to dwindle: suitcases, bicycles, photograph equipment, handbags, professional photo printer, negative scanner, and various other things as well.

There was a welcome sense of letting go, but a bit of tension still ensued as the biggest clean out had yet to be tackled: my sons huge book collection and playroom toys. AGH!!! This was not something my husband or I wanted to face, and yet we had to get it done. The books were weeded through at the start of this summer and lovingly donated to Families in Transition. Now all that was left was the playroom. So it sat undone for several more months until a opportunity came along to make us all feel more motivated about the process.

We had some work done on our home recently and the contractors have become quite close to us over the last year or so. It would seem that there are four grandchildren in the family. Their grandmother was asked and she excitedly agreed that going through the playroom would be fun. I forewarned her that  the task at hand was going to be overwhelming as my son had accumulated years of lovingly given toys and playthings that had come his way from family and friends. She laughed, sat down crossed-legged on the floor and held back no shyness as she carefully searched through the bins to choose what she wanted. I was so happy to see her unabashed delight that was so infectious!

So, rather then running from or avoiding the task at hand as we had been up till now,  it became game-like going through bin after bin after bin of toys giving her more and more and more stuff! But, what I loved even more was her enthusiasm and total lack of self consciousness  as she relished the task of putting big smiles on all her grand kids faces.   Before long, 7 or 8 large boxes and bins, along with two soft toy boxes FULL of STUFF were carried up to await her daughters arrival. 

I cannot begin to tell you what it meant for me to see the look on one of of her granchildren's face when he saw all the wonderful toys waiting on the driveway to be placed into his mom's van. Without any prompting this little 4 year old boy turned to me and said "Shanks fa ah da toyz!" in a tiny, happy voice that needed NO interpretation. Her one year old granddaughter snuggled up to a musical flower that had been a favorite of my sons when he was 2!  It is great to give things away but I have to admit when you know to whom your things go and you see the joy it brings to them, the feeling is beyond words!

Our task was made all the easier and it took us only two and half hours to complete the clean out process this weekend. Oh what a feeling! The room is clean and sparkling and we all feel better for having finished it. Sure, we could have made several hundred bucks on a garage sale but the task was not one we wished to undertake, especially given my husbands former double hernia! So, I can truly say that for us, giving it away, while challenging to let go of all the memories, was in the end a job well worth it!

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