Last week, I was hosting a dinner when I admired a guest’s bangles. Suddenly, it occurred to me. There was going to be a story coming up from the receiver of the compliment. Maybe about who gifted them, or where they got it or maybe how or when they got it. And I wasn’t disappointed. There was a charming story about how she got it on a recent trip and it led to a whole other conversation about what all they did there.
The next day, I overheard someone going gaga over another’s gorgeous necklace. The response was how her husband gifted it to her on their 6 month anniversary and this led to another conversation about how they celebrated that whole year and what other ladies got on their anniversaries.
The day after that when getting a lot of compliments on my earrings, I proudly stated my mom got those from me when she visited last. And how she is the one always buys my jewelry. That led to a whole another discussion about the variety of stuff available in different places and how our loved ones remember us no matter where they go.
Do you see the pattern?
I am often highly frustrated about how we keep accumulating stuff in spite of constantly decluttering. My quest to keep our house and lives streamlined seems an impossible journey. I often wish to have a magic wand to clean up the stuff and put them back in their shelves. I see stuff lying around and I feel physically and emotionally uncomfortable. But in light of the past few days, now I see that those things not just stuff, but memories! Everything surrounding me brings forth a fond memory of something we thought very long and hard about before bringing into our house. Those tiny little fragments of our loved ones, trips, milestones that we hold onto. When we look at them we are back in that moment breathing that air, in that season, reliving, feeling those poignant emotions, everlasting.
Everything surrounding me is a fond memory of something we thought very long and hard about before bringing into our house.
Now when I look around the house, I realize my exasperation at the constant clutter of toys also seems unwarranted. When I look at them, I don’t see the Dragon Toothless but the first toy we my son when he started preschool and his phase of “How to Train Your Dragon”. I don’t see a ragged doll, I see grandparents’ lovingly giving in to a grand-daughter’s demand. I don’t see a Spider-Man but an uncle’s first souvenirs from his trip to his nephew. I don’t see a lawn mower, I see an aunt’s birthday gift for my sweet girl. These toys are not just toys, but a loving reminder to me and my children that they are greatly cherished and that everything they do and desire matters. Someone keeps in mind their likes and dislikes when they go shopping for them. The trick to decluttering is to keep only things that keep you happy.
As I write this, my 5 year old son is enjoying a play date. His friend remarks how “awesome” his convertible Iron Man car is. My son proudly responds, “My Nani (grand ma) got it from me when she was visiting me from Kuwait. I love Iron Man, right?” and they start a hilariously competitive but lovable dialogue about which toys they each have given to them when.
I am smiling. Now the mess isn’t just a pile of stuff. They are little stories lying around making my home the warm place it is.