Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What's Really Important

          Over recent years, I have watched enough television on non-network channels to diagnose my own condition. I am quite certain I am not a hoarder. I don’t keep candy bar wrappers, or stack up egg cartons. I am not a collector, either. If I buy a stuffed toy or popular movie, it certainly does not stay in its original package, and I’m not obsessed about having every piece from any set.
          No, what I am is a “treasurer”. Make no mistake; I am not volunteering to be the club member in charge of collecting dues and paying bills. What I mean is that I do tend to keep a few objects around longer than other non-afflicted people might count as normal, but it is all because of the connection, the stories that go along with these items. One man’s junk becomes my treasure.
          I am certain to be able to provide a story for every unusual item you might find in my house. The brass bells hanging on the door between my kitchen and my laundry room set up a happy cacophony every time someone moves that door. They made the same noise in my grandmother’s house when I was a child. I was certain that I would have to fight to remove them from her estate, but evidently those memories were not as vivid for my cousins, so in this granny’s house is where they now reside.
          In the corner of our dining room, a handsome corner hutch holds plates, cups, knick knacks. It is the hutch itself that is important, as it was crafted by my very talented husband, in our own garage. Go ahead, try and name a price for that. Your efforts will be fruitless.
          Another hand-crafted item sits in my bedroom, holding a potted plant. This little three legged table was made by my father, when he was a student in a high school shop class. For years, it held the rotary-dial telephone in the heart of our house. Since the cord didn’t reach very far, I held many a whispered conversation in its vicinity during my early teens.
          Hanging on the living room wall is a more modern decoration. A little ballet of clock movements is performed at the top of each hour. Purchased by my mother at a local jewelry store, she said it was advanced payment for the trouble she was bound to cause me in her later years. These days, it brings a constant melodious smile to my world.
          Of course, there are also more traditional keepsakes. Photo albums, scrapbooks, journals all give a very tangible picture of the members of my family past and present. For me, the handwritten thoughts are as precious as the visual reminders. I have a tiny glimpse of who that person was on the inside.
          I was reminded of these things when a young family member recently lost her home and many of her possessions in a fire. The community will help provide the necessities of daily living, furniture, clothing, dishes, appliances. But what of those special little items that hold so much significance. Those losses leave a person really feeling empty, I am sure.
          In Steve Martin’s movie, “The Jerk”, he is being evicted from his house, and is selecting a few items to take along with him.(Loosely quoted) “All I need”, the character says, “is this chair. And my teddy bear, and this drinking glass.” As he wanders through the house, each item he passes reaches out, and he can’t bear to leave any of it. He soon becomes over burdened with important stuff. It’s not the monetary value, it’s the emotional attachment that we feel along with him.
          At this point in our lives, hubby and I are trying to downsize, and the possibility exists that we might soon have to pack up our important stuff to take to a new location. Decisions will be made, items will be looked at with fresh eyes. Is it really important that I keep the toys my kids played with as children? Probably not. But, that little dime-store statue of a pair of swans one of them bought with his own allowance as a Mother’s Day gift? The silver jewelry box engraved with “Mom” purchased when my oldest son and his fiancé were shopping for gifts for their wedding attendants? The Precious Moments figurine that sat on my daughter’s dresser until she left to start her own household?
          In the words of the little Chihuahua in the old commercial: “I think I need a bigger box.”



Ann McCauley said...

Choose the eternal over the temporary is what my husband always reminds me. Sounds like you've got a handle on that!

Jenny McLeod Carlisle said...

Thanks, Ann. I am working on it!