Why do we build bigger houses? The answer: to house more stuff.
If you remember watching the George Carlin comedy special where he did a skit on “stuff’ and the accumulation of more “stuff.” You probably laughed at his sense of humor and the need to acquire more “stuff.” Yes, its funny, however in my case not exactly true until we had kids!
In the years of “BC,” which I call “Before Children,” I kept a very uncluttered house. I was never a knick-knack type of person. I never had to worry about small children breaking valuable pieces of art or memorabilia, because I didn’t have any. Less “stuff” to dust. Our living quarters took all of two hours to clean from top to bottom.
Then came the years of “AC,” which I call “After Children.” All of the sudden, I found myself not being able to throw anything out. Each insignificant little piece of “stuff” meant everything to me if it had anything to do with my daughters. I became an emotional collector of stuff. What is this stuff? Where do I start? Where does it end?
Let’s begin with their births. I have every congratulation card, dried flower, baby rattle and ceramic container that say “its a girl.” No, I didn’t keep the belly button cord because that’s just gross. But I do have baby teeth, hair from their first haircut, their first piece of jewelry, hair bows, baby shoes, binkeys, etc.
After the baby stage came the christening outfit and cards, first birthday dress, candles, more cards, Halloween costume, Easter basket, pictures with Santa and so on. As they discovered crayons and the art of drawing, I began to collect the first works of art from scribbles to family portraits. I kept their favorite books and all their Disney videos.
Yes, I still have all their Barbie dolls, including more than 20 unopened that I kept for them in hopes that they keep them as collectibles. I did give away the Barbie houses and cars. Would you believe that stuff was just too bulky to store?
School started and I have every report card, project, special report, artwork and achievement earned. I’m still collecting that stuff. I have several huge plastic containers marked either the “Wesley Box” or the “Booey Box.”
Did I stop there? Not in the least. After the death of my dad and his parents (nana and papa), I am now the proud owner of every single slide my papa had taken, including his slide projector and screen. I took every piece of costume jewelry my nana ever owned. Worse yet, I have a four-foot stuffed teddy bear that sat in the corner of her room when she was alive. I even kept a knitted toilet paper holder she had in her bathroom. It’s hideous. I think it’s supposed to be a knitted person with brown arms and legs sticking out. But it was hers. It sat on the back of the toilet bowl for years and I couldn’t throw it out. Lastly, I have her cigarette case. She smoked up to the end of her life. It contains her last pack of cigarettes, matches, and lipstick. I couldn’t part with it because it was such a part of her.
What will I do with all this stuff? Absolutely nothing. It’s all boxed and packed away for the next house, which by the way, will contain more storage. I do have it planted in my head that my daughters may want to eventually take their stuff with them when they leave. And maybe, just maybe, pass it on to their daughters to look and laugh at.
I discovered my nana and I have a lot in common. My best collection of stuff is my dad’s report cards, high school autograph book and drawings. I guess some things never change.