Monday, December 29, 2008


Come on. Admit it. You know you like having stuff.

You have stuff everywhere.

In the front hallway, the kitchen counter, on the reading chair or sofa, in the closet, the junk drawer, the attic, the crawl space, the dresser drawer, the sideboard, the shed, under the bed, on the wall, on bookshelves, in file drawers, all piling up in an endless accumulation of items which will ultimately turn out to have very little impact on the quality of our lives.

A wise friend of mine once replied to her child who had just stated, "Oh, I just love that such in such!", with "We do not love things. We like things. We love people."

Well said. I've taken that statement to heart.

My friends may find me a bit extreme on the subject, but secretly, they want me to come over to clean and organize their offices for them (shout out to Trish). And while they secretly want me to come and clear out the unnecessary clutter, they would certainly have a conniption over every tossed item.

Fess up. You know it's true. Purging, if you are not accustomed to it, is very difficult.

Our house has a rule.

If we haven't touched or used or spoken about a material item within the year, we give it away (shout out to Jason and daughter Linnea who are loving their "new" rocking chair), consign it (shout out to Monica at Hand Me Downs), or donate it (shout out to Junior League Thrift House).

And lest you think that my children would rebel against this type of thinking, take in these words by Zane, as he did a possession review (shout out to Angie) on Christmas Eve of all days.

"Mom, I can give this box of blocks to a new kid. I have so many other blocks."

See, we've been doing this since they were babies. It started with a mountain of stuffed animals that had taken over Harper's bedroom as a toddler. We would hold up a stuffed and furry item (as long as it wasn't Snowman (shout out to Raymond Briggs), or another for which she had developed a true affinity) and ask, "Keep? Or go?" Harper would then decide the fate of the said stuffed creature.

Frankly, my kids do not have a lot of toys. Of course they have their favorite toys - those stay put. But the stragglers? The one's they've outgrown both in age and interest? Buh-bye. And they have even less from our clean-out the day before Christmas. For standing in the hallway is a large box filled with toys that they, THEY (not Mom), have decided to donate. Yes, I oversaw the process with my traditional, "Keep? Or go?" questions as I held up items. And yet, I respected their answer by either returning the item to its place or dumping it in the donation box.

It can be done.

We started early.

A yearly possession review is, and I shudder to think that I am about to quote Martha Stewart, "a good thing."

But wait. I'm not trying to get all high and mighty or uppity on you. My kids rooms are a mess. Harper's desk is a frenetic, scattered mess of stickers and papers and little chotskies, leaving no room for it to be used as an actual desk. I wouldn't dare touch those special items. Zane's room is a dangerous terrain of blocks, matchbox cars, and action figures with sharp weapons that seem to camouflage themselves until a parent's shoeless foot comes into view.

So, no, I'm not announcing perfection here.

But let's help our children make choices and decisions about their possessions while they are young. For maybe, just maybe, their generation will make wiser choices with their spending then ours has.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

We do a "reorg" on Matthew's room each year after Christmas and before school goes back in session. It's a day-long affair where we drag out EVERY toy and bin, throw away, give away, find all the pieces, and restore his room to some semblance of order. He still has too many toys, but he is, after all, a pack rat after my husband's own heart. At least I don't have to hear him complain about not being able to find something. :) Of course, now that I have two children it will be even more "fun." Thanks for the insights and encouragement that it CAN be done!