Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Friday, January 15, 2010

Letting go

I took down the Christmas Tree this morning.


It's not the work. It took less than an hour, start to finish.

It's not that the house looks so different - strangely bare - when all the decorations are put away. Besides, I'll leave a few little touches here and there - the wreath on the door, the Christmas-y kitchen dish cloths and the bathroom towels - until Lent.

It's not that I'm letting go of the Spirit of Christmas. I'm still all aglow from our family "Little Christmas" celebration last Sunday.

It's that I have trouble letting go. Period.

I don't know. Maybe it's that I'm a child of the post-depression era. My parents were "savers" and "stockers." My mother "put up" vegetables in the basement and never threw anything away. Well, nothing that couldn't be reused - even aluminum (or, as she called it "tin") foil.

Not that this is a bad thing, necessarily. We've become a 'throw away' culture and our planet is suffering for that. That attitude spills over into the way we see our world, our relationships.

Vacuum cleaner break down? Toaster won't work? Repair it? Are you kidding me? It's easier - and, in some cases, cheaper - to to just replace it. Don't like that person/friend/employee/house/car/couch/table/bedroom set? Get a new one.

I, on the other hand, tend to err on the other end of the spectrum. I don't let go easily. In fact, for me, it's really hard.

If something has sentimental value or is attached to a memory from something or someone special, no matter how silly - our useless - it takes an enormous effort for me to let go of it.

To wit: I have a small box of unmatched earrings and necklaces I still can't get rid of. There is a drawer in my kitchen that has at least half dozen keys, none of which belong to anything I can even vaguely remember owning.

I call them "the mystery keys."

I still have the flannel nightgown I wore when I was pregnant for our youngest child (born in 1981). It has a thin, worn spot in the back which has become fragile, so instead of wearing it, I keep it folded in the drawer.

Oh, there's more, but those are the ones I'm willing to admit publicly.

I shudder to think what it's going to be like when it comes time for us to retire and leave this place. Easily, 75% of what's here will have to go - somewhere.

Some of it will be easy to unload. The furniture will either be sold or donated to a charity. Lots of stuff - lamps, clothes, bed linens, pots, pans - will get picked up by folks at a Yard Sale (where lots of this stuff came from, anyway).

I worry about our books. Isn't that silly? It's true. Libraries don't take them any more. Prisons and extended care facilities don't either. Shipping them abroad is so costly as to be almost as obscene as throwing them away.

Thankfully, I still have time to figure it all out. I'm still far enough away from retirement as to not create a drama but close enough to begin planning.

Which, I think, is what taking down the Christmas tree provokes in me. It's about a surrender to a process which has been taking place since the moment I took my first breath.

It's acknowledging that there is great wisdom in the biblical words, "To everything there is a season . . . and a time for every purpose under heaven."

It's time to begin to let go. Here. Now.

As I've been writing this, I've been going through the bookshelves. I've actually packed away all the murder-mystery novels and all the outdated reference books.

I've reorganized the shelves so that those books which are going with us can be more easily packed. I've tagged those books which can stay on the shelves for now but will be offered in the Yard Sale which I'm beginning to plan for the Spring.

I've also gone through the VCR, DVD and CD collections. Some of them will be offered free to family and friends, the rest will be put out at the Yard Sale and others, well, those will get left in boxes out on the curb before eventually carting the rest of them to the dump.

But, that box of miss-matched earrings and jewelry? Those six mystery keys? That flannel nightgown?

Not today, I'm afraid.

Someday. Soon.

Just not today.


Kirkepiscatoid said...

I still have a set to all the master keys for all the (now long trashed) jukeboxes, pinball machines, video games, and coin-operated pool tables on my grandfather's route. When I was a little kid, I thought he had all the keys to the universe.

I cannot bring myself to toss those keys.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, thank GOD, Doc. I feel so much better now.

Hmm . . . there IS something about keys, isn't there? I suspect, long after I've throw out the jewelry, I'll still have those keys.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Well, I know what my keys went to. I like to think your keys unlock holy mysteries...doors long forgotten and gone un-noticed...secret doors to places your heart has not really explored. So for God's sake, DON'T THROW THOSE KEYS AWAY!

whiteycat said...

I have a terminal case of PRS ... Pack Rat Syndrome. Needless to say, this post really spoke to me.

Grandmère Mimi said...

I understand, Elizabeth. I can get rid of stuff, just not enough of it. What I do now with new books that I've read but I'm pretty sure I won't reread is to give them to libraries. The libraries around here will take new books.

We still have shelves and shelves that will have to be disposed of and lots of other stuff. To think about it makes me squirm.

Muthah+ said...

I have wondered when the Intervention is going to start at our place! The thought of retiring is terrifying. I think that many never retire because they would have to go through their libraries!

JTurner said...

TOTALLY understand. My hubby and I had to get rid of the first TV we'd bought together--it had lasted 15 years, been back and forth across the country, still worked great--but it wasn't up to the new specs for TVs last year and we couldn't get anything to plug into it any more (for sound, etc.). It sat off to the side of the living room floor for a YEAR before we could finally get up the nerve to get rid of it without our hearts breaking. And even then it was hard! And yup, bags of keys everywhere, to things we no longer have access to...

but books! The rule is we can't bring in more books without getting rid of some of the old ones (same rule for me with shoes). So we've found a lot of used bookstores, Goodwill, church libraries-- they will take a lot of books--and the sooner you get them into rotation the sooner other people can enjoy them too. :) We still have more books than is decent, but never ever throw away a book...

Geeklet said...

I have many pieces of jewelry which have long since lost their brothers and sisters. I suppose I don't throw them away because, well, what if I find it one day? There's always that little hope.

I kept a favorite shirt from 6th grade for many years - in fact, I only recently threw out shoes from back then (I'm in my senior year of college.)

I keep presents - it's truly hard for me to get rid of something given to me. If a gift came with a little piece of writing, I save it. If it's from my "Uncle Chris" (a friend from online, whom I've obviously adopted,) or from my boyfriend, I even save a piece of the wrapping paper.

I have several boxes of letters - categorized by person or family and organized chronologically.

I have clothes that haven't fit for years, and by the time I lose the weight, I'll not want to wear them again. When I try to give them away or toss them, mom doesn't exactly help by going through the bags and demanding to know why I don't like X piece. Just when I thought I'd defeated my packrat bug...

As for keys, I think it's the same reason as we keep the jewelry. Maybe, one day, we'll find the other piece - and maybe, one day, we'll find out what we have locked, and if we don't have the will we ever open it again?