I’ve spoken in other posts here about how clutter can be comforting, when it speaks light and love or has special memories attached.
But I’m realizing now that there’s a limit to just how comforting clutter can be…there’s a fine line between “enough” and “too much”. And we’ve crossed that line in this house!
It wasn’t so bad before we started cleaning out our elderly neighbour’s house 6 months ago. But now, 6 months later, we’re stuffed to the rafters! As the children and grandchildren sorted through the belongings, we packed up the stuff that had been designated to give away. We were allowed to – and did – put aside things that we thought would be useful for our friends in Cuba…those are all stored away in bins in the 3rd spare bedroom (officially designated as our Cuba room). And then we started putting aside various things for other neighbours who had let us know what they were hoping for. And hubby is a bit of a pack-rat, so I’m pretty sure that those big bulges showing up on the sides of our little garden shed might be a clue as to where a lot of the stuff has been shuffled off to.
I’ve also been putting a few little knick-knacks aside, just in case anyone in our neighbour’s family comes back later looking for some of those treasures…like any of the Ottawa Senators’ (our local hockey team) paraphernalia. (And sure enough, someone DID come back looking for it and luckily we had pulled it out of the charity box and saved it for them!). I’ve been through this so many times in recent years, that I know how it is…at first the task seems too monumental and all you want to do is get rid of everything. So we do. But then, a few months or even years down the road, all of sudden one of those old family knick-knacks comes to mind, or a memory gets tweaked, or Christmas arrives and we remember old family treasures and realize that we really did want to hold onto them, if only for a little while…but once they’re gone, they’re gone.
So I did pull what looked like old family treasures aside and they’re now packed in boxes in our basement….just in case. I’m not sure how long they’ll be there…at some point, we’ll have to take them to the charity store as the family originally designated. For now, we’re willing to hold on to them, simply because we’ve been there, done that and regretted it….I remember in particular one tiny ornamental knick-knack that my Mom had put in my stocking one year. It had followed me around from apartment to apartment for many many years. When we did a major clean-out, I tossed it into the give-away box. Then months later, started crying because I missed it. I felt silly, it was such a simple little ornament, but hey, I was really sad to have lost it. Then the next time we visited hubby’s family, my heart stood still when I looked up and saw that little thing sitting on the top shelf of their display cabinet…I was flabbergasted! But unbeknownst to me, hubby had taken that particular box to his brother to sell in his flea market store and this little ornament had ended up on that shelf instead of the store shelf. Well, when my sister-in-law found out, she lovingly wrapped that little treasure up and presented it to me with such joy in her eyes…I cried like a baby, silly me. But that taught me that not all junk is junk…sometimes we’re simply not ready to toss those memory-laden treasures away just yet.
However, as I look around me, I realize we may have overextended our definition of “treasures”! Our house is stuffed full, floor to ceiling, wall to wall, with little pathways to get from one room to the other. Some of the stuff will be gone next week…neighbours will come and take what we put aside for them. Family members will be coming to take those few last-minute boxes that we pulled out just minutes before the real estate agent came to put the “for sale” sign up.
Still, it’s no longer comforting, this clutter. It’s in fact rather, well, discombobulating!! (Yes I love being able to use the word, but no, I don’t like the feeling.) But we’re stuck with it for awhile, so I guess I have to make peace with it for now…unless we decide to buy that new house we’ve been looking at. Sigh, in which case we will have to do this all over again, not only going through THEIR stuff all over again, but all of our own clutter as well. Not a comforting thought at all!
Except that it will be a great opportunity to downsize…right now, looking around at the mountains of stuff piled all around me, downsizing is very appealing.
Yes, clutter in its rightful place and sparseness can be comforting. And then, all of a sudden, it isn’t. Watch that line, it’s invisible, but when you’ve crossed it, you’ll know it. Very discombobulating!