In August, my nephew Eric, his wife Misty and their daughter Natalie lost their home and all their possessions to a fire. It was a blessing that they were not home at the time. They are currently in the process of rebuilding. Eric recently told me that the love of family and friends is what pulled them through it all.
I think of them often, but no more so than when I am sorting through boxes and crates of our own possessions. We are in the process of “culling” our household before we move to Mt. Carmel next year.
As many of you know, Jim and I are buying the “farm” where Jim’s parents currently live. The house was originally a two room house that his grandfather built. As their family grew, more rooms were added. When Jim’s grandmother grew older and needed assistance in order to remain at home, Jim’s parents bought the house and built an addition on for their living space. Jim and I will be moving into his grandmother’s part of the house.
One thing that is shared in the home is the kitchen. Now some people may think that two women sharing a kitchen would be a problem, but Jim’s mother says she is looking forward to my taking over that area of the house. I love to cook and do so often when we stay with them, so they know what they are getting in to.
But going through my cabinets, twenty plus years of dishes, appliances, gadgets…deciding what to take and what to get rid of, what I think Craig or Derek might want…it’s hard. There are practical items that make my decision easy. There are sentimental items that make me feel like taffy (you have to be old to get that one).
And yet…it all just stuff. Things that make my life easier, but for the most part, not necessities. And so my dilemma continues.
I laughed as I boxed up some of Craig’s books for the move. I remember having boxes and boxes of books, thinking one day my children would want them. But, other than a few children’s’ books that I read to them when they were young, my sons had different tastes in literature than I did at their ages. Oh, Craig and I share the love of the classics and I love to read the adventure books that Derek did growing up, but they never found much interest in my complete Bobbsey Twin series or my Louisa May Alcott books.
Some I have given away over the years…some I can’t seem to let go. I remember, when I was very little, sitting in the shopping cart and reading a Little Golden book. My mother would let me pick one out to read while we shopped. I don’t know how many she bought me over the years, but I must have at least forty of them still.
When I was older, I would spend my allowance to see what new adventure the Bobbsey twins, Nan & Bert, Flossie & Freddie, had wandered into this time. I haven’t read those books in over thirty years…and yet, they have sat in boxes, unused, all that time.
I guess as I search through the house and all the “treasures” we have accumulated over the years, I have to ask myself, what if this item were to disappear? What if a fire or tornado came and took these “things” from us? What would I truly miss? And what am I holding onto that someone else could be using?
What makes us as humans feel the need to hold onto our “stuff”? Jim and I aren’t hoarders by any means. In fact, I think we do a pretty good job of taking things to Goodwill or our church’s yard sale that we no longer need. And yet…well, the proof is in the pudding as they say.
As I think of Eric, Misty and Natalie, I hope that letting go of some of our possessions, some that others could be using, will be a lesson I carry forward with me when we move into our new home. That I won’t “store up treasures” but share them with others.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. ~~Matthew 6:19
Why grab possessions like thieves, or divide them like socialists, when you ignore them like wise men? ~~Natalie Clifford Barney