Friday, January 15, 2010
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.
Just not today.