Not So Comfy Clutter

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!

About Sharon

I love to write. I love to write myself into being right here right now. Writing releases something in me that needs wings, writing opens doors and windows that I often don't even realize are possible, writing helps me breathe out the dusty old, and to breathe in the new and possible. My hope is that maybe writing here in this blog will bring new light into these dusty old hallways and help me to clear out the thinking processes and mindsets that just don't work for me anymore. I seek to breathe new light and life into the nooks and crannies of a soul that has been feeling somewhat lost and frayed because of the last few patches of road I've had to travel.
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5 Responses to Not So Comfy Clutter

  1. I have 'treasures' from my parents that I can't bear to part with. Like the mobile made of plastic of the Queen's Guard complete with busbys. Or my grandfather's WWI pay book and medals. And my grandmother's ivory handled button hook. I guess it will be up to my sons to clean out all that stuff. But then I also have lots of my Mom's knick-knacks and jewelry; some of it worth money. I keep saying that one of these days I really need to find out what some of the things are worth, if anything. But even then, I'm not sure I could part with them. So I understand.


  2. Eagle Heart says:

    Yes, there are many boxes of untouchable stuff that will continue to sit in our basement (although I do use some of it in our everyday life now…somebody has to use it!!!) and move with us wherever we go. The things that you mention here sound very precious and too dear to even contemplate not keeping – so why not enjoy them and the memories they evoke in you! My problem these days is all the stuff we're storing for other people…though we just got rid of an entire van-full just moments ago. A friend of a friend just moved into an apartment today and has absolutely nothing, not even a cup, or a glass or blankets for her bed. So we happily gave everything we could possibly get rid of and they were ecstatic!! We have to wait for the family to take the rest of the pile. But it put a huge dent in that mountain!


  3. My name is Queen JJ, Queen of clutter. I'm pretty sure I invented it. If someone handed me a spoon with peanut butter on it and said it was old, I would weep until they promised I could have it forever and ever. I have my ponytail that was cut off in the 1st grade. Does that tell you anything? BTW, super-glue nor duct tape will fix that. So you are among good company, my friends. Don't ever expect me to put a "de" in front of it…ain't gonna happen. I love my "stuff."


  4. Eagle Heart says:

    Me too, Georgia! As long as it's MY stuff…if it's MY stuff, it's precious. When it's someone else's stuff, it's in the way…because then it means less space available for MY stuff. LOL. I just hope "their" stuff doesn't gradually worm its way into becoming MY stuff. You know how it is…you look at something long enough it starts to look familiar and as if it belongs there.


  5. I figure if it's there long enough, it's mine. Then again, my kids are so afraid they will inherit all of MY stuff. Chickens…


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