Clearly, the state of this dresser top does not fit in with my minimal living and decluttering goals.
All the while I was cleaning out closets and boxes and throwing things out this summer and fall, my dresser looked like that.
Teacher, I have an excuse!
In July, I flew to Texas then drove back with Weston and Morgan in the Ford Explorer (that he later wrecked). My mother had been slowly putting piles of things together that she would send to me every so often. Sometimes she would send things home with the kids after their summer trips to Texas because it would save mailing. My mother had already given me many things that were of more tangible value, such as her china and things of that nature. She had been working on a pile of other things that she had intended to send home with the kids to me this summer. Instead, these things were given to me after her funeral and I took them home with me.
The pile of bags and boxes included things like framed photos of me as a child, framed photos I’d given to her of my children, extra copies of smaller photos of the kids that I used to always get for her, cards the kids had sent her in their babyish scrawls, old photos of her, snapshots of me as a baby and some of me as a teenager, and even my grade school report cards.
There was also this construction paper-covered tin can pencil holder Ross had made in kindergarten. There was a note tucked inside from my mother telling me she had set it by her telephone all these years and kept her pens and pencils in it.
There were other random things, like one of those origami-style folded paper “fortune teller” things, you know, the things kids make in grade school that ask questions and you can move the flaps back and forth and inside it has answers about which boy you like or it might tell you that you stink and so on. What was inside, though, was this “persuasive paper” I’d written my parents when I was 15 explaining why I should only go to high school half-day the next semester. (I finished high school in 10th grade, and apparently, I thought not only should I finish high school in 10th grade, I shouldn’t even go full-time the final semester.) I had valid reasons such as homework was cutting into my TV time. I can’t even remember now if I went to school full-time that last semester or not, but my mother must have thought the paper was so (unintentionally) amusing, she kept it.
Receiving this pile of things after her funeral was creepy in a way. These things were different than the things she had given me before. These things were of no particular value other than sentimental, mostly pieces of paper and pictures. These were mementos, little personal treasures. Pictures she kept on the wall or on tables, and other things she enjoyed having near her–much of it being things I had given to her. And she was giving them back to me.
I was so creeped out by this pile of things that I came home, stacked it all up on my dresser, and didn’t touch it for months. However! That is no way to live or to honor those things, so I finally got tired of my mess and cleaned it all up over the past few days.
I had to find a place to keep what I had brought back, and that meant taking another swipe at my closet–this time, not at the clothes hanging up but at the things I had stored on the shelves and on the floor. I took my own advice and judged whether what was currently in there meant anything to me and when was the last time I used it, judging everything against what my mother had given me. When trying to minimize, holding something of value (whether tangible or sentimental value) up against other things taking up space in your home is a good way to make decisions easier. I piled up a “trash mountain” of things to get rid of and by the time I stored the things I’d brought back from Texas, there was less stuff in my closet–and the stuff that was in there was more meaningful and worthy of taking up storage space.
I also kept out some things to display and enjoy. Hanging a few of my childhood photos makes me feel like I’m in my parents’ house, which is a cozy feeling.
And now my dresser looks like this.