Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Crap and Stuff

First of all, apologies if you are offended by my use of the word crap!

So, we moved.  Everything.  All of it.  Sorted it, packed it, loaded it, stored it, unloaded it, unpacked it, and (for the most part) placed it.  Every single thing we owned.  Every one.  My mind had been boggled for some time over the fact that literally everything we owned had to be picked up and moved.  Think about it!  Of course there's the furniture, and the dishes, and the clothes-----but what about every pen, every paper clip, every piece of paper?  They have to be moved, every one of them.  Ugh.

I planned for this.  Every detail (I thought).  I orchestrated packing, and Goodwill, and trash events.  I figured out a labeling system for the boxes---hot pink duct tape, which just happened to be on the "hurricane preparedness tax-free weekend" when we bought it.  I found a website for room arrangements, so I could decide in advance where everything was to go.  I designated two closets at the old house for stuff that we would need in the interim, and would travel with us in the cars.  I got bottled water for the movers.  I had lists, and files, and folders, real and virtual, of all the details.  I was ready.

Then the truck showed up.  Seemed small to me, but they assured me their best packer was up to the task.  Wasn't long before they were agreeing with me.  They had anticipated our having about 75-100 boxes to move, and we had about 225.  Hmm.  So they had to call for another truck.  Does that scream, "We have too much stuff!!!", or not???   That's a lot of stuff.  Do you have any idea how much stuff is in 225 boxes???

When our first house burned in 1988, I remember being somewhat in shock, but trying to not overwhelm a 4-year-old.  For months he had been saying, "I'm afraid we'll have a fire," and we had always assured him we didn't think that would happen, but "if it did, the firemen would come and we'd be fine."  As I tucked him into a bed in my brother's house that first night, while the firefighters  were still on the scene fighting our fire, I told him that the important thing was that all the people were fine, and that we could get more "stuff."    In the weeks that followed that night, we spent a lot of time cleaning stuff, looking for stuff, crying over stuff, remembering stuff, buying stuff, missing stuff, replacing stuff----but all the while realizing it was JUST stuff.

Years later, we were moving from that house to our just-moved-away-from house, and in anticipation of that move, I wondered out loud if we would be happy.  I said to Cameron, "What if we don't like it there?  What if it doesn't feel like home?", to which he replied, "It WILL be home----we're taking all of our crap!" 

A week ago today, the movers arrived at our new house with both truckloads of stuff, and to be honest, probably a lot of crap.  But it's our stuff, our crap.  As the boxes and furniture piled higher and wider in each room, I wondered if it would ever feel like home, but once they left, we started to tackle it, box by box, room by room.  At times, we approached a box, hoping and praying there would only be a couple of large items in it, rather than a box full of knick-knacks.  At other times, it was like Christmas, finding things that had been packed away for months, and that we had forgotten we had.  But all the while, I kept wondering, "Why do we have so much stuff?" 

A friend once visited our house, and commented that she always loved the way everything in our house has significance.  I often think of that, and she's right about a lot of it.  We have wooden things my grandfather made, oil paint-by-numbers that several grandparents did, quilts made by Brian's grandmother, a collage of leaves from trees we planted in our first yard, a print of a piece of artwork made by Aaron's 8th grade class, another print of Grateful Hill Baptist Church in Jamaica, where Aaron took refuge during Hurricane Emily.  We have a printer's tray, full of tiny keepsakes, all of which had significance at some point, although for some of them that significance is forgotten.  There's the Snoopy from a pair of sunglasses that spent many months lodged in the cassette player in my car----wondered why tapes wouldn't go in.  There are the bells off of both boys toddler shoes, both sets of tubes from Aaron's ears (the Tube Fairy was kind enough to let us keep them!), the plug from the TV that Aaron cut off with scissors as a 3-year-old, a keychain Brian gave me the first year we were dating----lots of memories. 

So yes, my friend is probably right, most everything has significance.  And as we've found new places for it to reside in this latest move, we've reminisced about that significance.  I have managed to come up with one box (so far) of 'this isn't all that significant any more, or at least I can't remember why it was' that we can pass on, but the rest of it stays.  (Sorry kids, someday you'll have to sort it all out!)

So, it might be stuff to you, or even crap, but it's our stuff, and our crap, and it's our house, and that stuff and that crap make it our home, and fill it with memories.  And I'm just going to go out on a limb here, and guess that we're going to add more stuff, more crap, as the years go on----and we're OK with that. 

Come see us----we'll tell you the story behind all our crap and stuff!!

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

New International Version (NIV)

18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot.19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lotand be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.

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