Years ago I lamented ever keeping our home clean.
Baskets, bins, and boxes of craft supplies, toys, and the assorted flotsam and jetsam of family life made me despair of ever seeing a clear surface again.
I used to get up every morning at least an hour before the children. I spent that hour cleaning and scrubbing. Every single day. Yes, really.
I don’t do that anymore.
Wall of things
As time goes on and we all grow older our home has grown to fit us and our stuff. Still, at some point, we hit a wall of things.
I remember my grandmothers and other women of a certain maturity telling me they were cleaning house and clearing out.
I was often the recipient of items that still had a lot of life left. Life that would be best spent with me, apparently.
There was a time when auctions, thrift, and hand me downs were my happy place. Life could not have enough color — and tchotchkes. I could not understand why people wanted to get rid of perfectly good stuff.
Then I hit a wall. Literally. I didn’t have a spare wall.
I also didn’t have a spare basket, bin, cupboard, or shelf.
At some point I realized I was spending more time cleaning, dusting, and rearranging our stuff than I was living my life.
We had reached mass capacity for pretty things and shiny objects. Suddenly I understood the urge to give it all away — If not all, then most.
We were literally drowning in stuff. I had an overflowing closet and nothing to wear.
I didn’t like to cook because finding all the little specialty dishes and gadgets we owned was more trouble than an entree could possibly be worth.
The great clutter purge began. I kept what is meaningful, useful, and necessary.
I took in new things, my late and very beloved Gram’s circa 1960s mixing bowls now have a place of pride in my kitchen. If anything I make tastes half as good as hers I will consider myself blessed.
I hoard photos and sentimental items of course. I have a beautiful marble top cabinet coming my way. Again, a family heirloom.
On the flip side I learned to embrace open space. Every corner and wall does not need to be filled.
Empty can be lovely too. It is much easier to clean and wipe and dust around things that aren’t there.
Tis a far better thing to have one bottle of premium moisturizer we use to the last drop, than a half dozen half-full bottles of bargain rate didn’t work items. I am learning to appreciate quality over quantity.
I have officially broken up with clothes that don’t fit, aren’t comfortable, or simply don’t fit my lifestyle — less laundry, more happy.
I gathered up pillows and blankets and soft fluffy rugs. I put things where we use them.
I took down some shelves, cleared others, and streamlined our needs. Dusting and tidying has never been easier.
I have never valued things over people. We have aged leather couches, a thick fuzzy rug, faux fur, velvet throws, and clouds of down filled comforters and pillows inviting you to fall in and stay awhile.
Our bedrooms are similarly outfitted, as is our family room. Our home these days is basically one big down fluffy haven of clean space and comfort.
It’s easy to fluff and fold back into a semblance of order. Since I turned our living room into the equivalent of a pillow fort, cleanup is easy.
It is a distinctly “First World Blessing” to be able to give away truckloads of stuff.
Give it away
As we enter the season of gratitude and giving thanks, I encourage others to consider what they can give up, what they can give away, and what we can bless others with. Clean your home and your heart. Give up clutter — and grudges.
This season let’s be thankful not only for what we have, but what we are able to give up.
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