I’ve been trying to get organized for nearly sixty years. Before then I really didn’t own enough stuff to need much in the way of order. I owned a few white socks I tossed in a drawer. Need a pair? Take two. I owned one pair of tennis shoes, two blue jeans, a couple of t-shirts and one sweater. My few books I kept in two wooden orange crates. Need to move? Tip the crates on their backs and give them a shake. Move out ready.
I had one fishing pole and some basic gear in a fishing creel, and one deer rifle I used to fill the larder once a year. (For a starving college student I ate pretty well.)
But after several years of the simple life, the great gather started in earnest. When you have children you need stuff…cribs, washers, tables, chairs, furniture, beds. You know…to set up a house. As children grow, and as incomes grow, the list of stuff grows until finally we have too much of it, especially after the kids move away. Then it’s time for yard sales and taking stuff to the local thrift store.
My wife Vi and I have been doing a lot of that lately…giving stuff away, telling our grown children to “come and get it.” Mainly, it’s pure relief to watch the piles disappear. A couple of things are valuable if we were to sell them. (We probably won’t. Those we’ll give to the kids.)
We find more value in the clutter of those things that store our memories: a painting from a sister; a painting from Mother; fishing tackle made by Dad; the “family” wall plastered with photos of all our people; leftover school papers from kids and grandkids; and lots, and lots of memorabilia in the form of photos, stuffed animals, framed pictures, birthday and Christmas cards, and a lot of cups that say schmaltzy things like “Worlds Greatest Grandma,” (or Grandpa); and personal gifts from close friends. Those have softened my desire to return to the simple life of orange crates, white socks and one pair of tennis shoes.
The great gather is over, I hope, but the memories linger. I give thanks to the Good Lord for all of it, and wonder how people manage lives without the stuff that stores our memories.