Saturday, January 4, 2014

But First

Now that the holidays are over, it is time for the annual "Oh my God, where am I going to put all this new crap?" ritual. It is tons of work, somewhat tedious, somewhat arduous, and at times, quite emotional.

I come from a long line of hoarders. My grandmother, as has been previously documented, was a closet hoarder. My parents prefer to use the term pack rats. Now, I mean this with no disrespect. Afterall, I did go and pick up my skis, boots, poles, goggles and gloves that have been at my parents' house since 1988-89 ish for a ski outing tomorrow. Every time my parents throw something out, I inevitably need it shortly thereafter. I tend am the same way.

The take-down-Christmas procedure is actually a series of "but firsts." And it is always the "but firsts" that kill you. To take down the tree, I need to put the presents away. But first I need to vacuum the playroom. But first I need to put toys away in the playroom. But first I need to make a space in the playroom. And on and on and on.

These are totally first-world problems. I get it. My kids have too much. I need to clean out and pass it on. I've been meaning to have a garage sale, but frankly, it is too much work for me. There are way too many "but firsts" for me to even begin with that. I found a woman who does a non-profit garage sale for Multiple Sclerosis. I am going to donate to her, as well as to a local organization that helps the needy in our area. They run shelters, so I hope they could use toys. I would like my kids to see how fortunate they (we) are to have all our wants and needs met. I would like them to see the joy on another child's face when he or she gets a toy because they have none. I hope that they can understand and then not fight so much when I try to purge.

I started the purge last week, anticipating the "but firsts" that were to come. I gave all my remaining maternity clothes to a friend. If I end up pregnant now, she is in BIG TROUBLE, because I will totally blame her.

Today, I attended a baby shower for another friend. In discussion, I realized that one of my friends could use some clothes for her baby boy. Knowing that I have bins of my son's clothes in the basement, I offered them to her.

When I got home from the shower (after I picked up my skis that my parents have been holding onto for 25 years--good thing I haven't grown since I was 13), I went to the basement and pulled out the baby clothes. I tried not to look at them too closely as I shoved them in a big black bag. I pulled out the few special outfits and bagged up the rest. I was able to take three large containers and condense them into one (with some room to spare). As I did this, my son, who is almost ten (gasp!), was playing basketball in the basement.

And I started to get nostalgic.
Where did my little boy go? How has he gotten so big? When did this happen?

And I realized that keeping his onesies or overalls will not bring that little boy back. Keeping my daughter's first baby doll and stroller that she used before she could walk will not make her that little again.

That time is past, and no amount of memorabilia or stuff will get it back. The past is the past, and we cannot get it back. That is why it is so important to make the present count.

I can look at pictures and tell our stories through my scrapbooks. Lord knows, I have enough of them to fill the Library of Congress (or so my dad says). That way, the kids will have their history and memories to share with their kids. I can preserve that way. And I can look at my kids and who they are now. Who they have become. All of the past has added up to today. And today, they are kind and caring and funny.

I hope they will learn by watching me pass things on to be charitable. I hope it teaches them to look out for one another and even people they don't know. I hope they understand how good it feels to give someone clothing that is of no use to us, but know that it will really help that person. I hope that the clothes and toys have another shot at making memories and making other people happy the way they did for us.

Plus, it feels really good to declutter and get rid of stuff. But first, I had to blog about it.

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