An unwelcome guest
How did you get here? I go to organize my pantry and what do I find? Anchovy fillets, a small bottle of what looks like gourmet anchovies packed in pure olive oil and sea salt, and imported from Italy. This is truly meant to be a delicacy. Yet, I have no memory of ever having purchased it Somebody must have given this to my husband, no other explanation. I don’t even like anchovies. When we order pizza with someone else and the other person asks, “What do you want on it?” I also say, “Whatever you prefer, we like everything, except anchovies.”
Like anchovies, how many other items in that pantry, my closet, my basement, and my attic fit the unwelcome guest category? Some items earn the title because they no longer serve a purpose like a sippy cup or a lampshade for a lamp that is broken. Others because they are unfinished projects or somebody else’s memorabilia that I feel compelled to preserve, even if the item was not a critical part of my nostalgia cache, which is already extensive?
I gently pick up a green and yellow baby blanket I started knitting for my son over 30 years ago. The stitches are well done and I admire my work before lamenting the fact that I never finished it and why do I still have this? Then there is my aunt’s painting of a sailboat that she gave me that I don’t really like that much but it’s hanging on my wall so as not to offend her, although she has long since passed away. Why do I have two shoeboxes of FLOPPY DISCS? As I prepare to toss them I wonder what pictures are preciously stowed away there, but really with that resolution I am not sure it even matters.
When you live in the same house your entire married life, that house becomes a repository for all the stages of life, you and your family have embedded in the fiber of the home itself. There is a bank of memories and sentiment that make your home more beautiful with each passing year. Along with this, we take in more and more material items that sneak into the fabric of our home, unnoticed at the time, and asking us why they are here years later. Now that I am spending more time home the urge has hit to come up for air and rid myself of all the excess weight holding the ship of life down, anchored in a sea of nostalgia, confusion, and neglect. I have 3 books on how to declutter and they have, in effect, become part of the clutter.
There are some exceptions to the “it must go” rule. This includes meaningful family pictures, personal writing, antiques that have been passed down and connect generations, and Items of exceptional beauty that speak to you, as well as those that are truly useful. One item I hope my children will keep is a needlepoint lovingly made by my mom and preserved in museum glass. These items have a spirit of their own that transcends the designation as material. Yet, it is hard to admit that all that we love cannot be preserved under museum glass. Life is bigger than that.
Accumulation happens quickly without you even noticing until one day you have to climb out from under it. Do keep a few things that really have meaning for you and your family, but don’t get sidetracked by the onslaught of life’s souvenirs. As for the extras, let it go!
Play this in your mind while you do so……..
“Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway”
Chorus of “Let it Go” from Frozen