Lately I am dumbfounded by the changes I am experiencing, internally. Things that used to vie for my attention no longer interest me. My home used to be full of new, fresh out of the factory furniture, decor, and other material items. Now, I am taking the same items and spending time figuring out how to make them look old. I look at things and ask myself, “what does this mean to me?” Does it jog a memory? Create a joyful emotion? Does it remind me of a lesson learned in life? Does it have a story behind it?
If the answer to any of those questions is no then it just might be found listed on Freecycle or if our community can use it then we’ll donate it to our church.
Not only am I simplifying our household by getting rid of unnecessary things but even the things that are necessary (furniture, bedding, dishes, etc) I want to have some sort of meaning that brings joy or lasting comfort. Not the kind of comfort that comes from buying to satisfy a feeling of emptiness but the kind of comfort that is like a random hug from someone you love.
These meaningful things are the “abundant” in my life. I wasn’t always like this. I think that losing the boys’ dad and not having much left to hold on to may have sparked something with me. The only physical things my babies have left to represent their dad is their LSU ball caps, a few odds and ends things like his duck calls and pool stick, and his clothing. Mark was cremated too and his ashes are not here so there is no where for my boys to go when they need to feel close to their dad. Right now all they have are these few material things. I know that started the changes in me but I know what put me over the top was when my grandma learned that she wouldn’t be here with us much longer.
The very next weekend after she got the news the whole family went over to spend time with her. While we were there she had us make plans for after she was gone. She also took us on a tour of her house… the one we’d been through hundreds of times over the years but this time was different. She wanted us to know the story or history behind most of the things she owned. Until that day I never knew the stories she shared with us.
“This came from Japan while your Papaw was stationed there. It’s Noritaki China. I had told him once that I wanted a full set of china went I got married so he sent this to me. He bargained hard with the old lady selling it. He finally told her about me and she agreed to a lower price. I still wonder just what it was he said to her” *she laughed*
“This ruffled edge glass dish on my dining room table came from an old hotel in Baton Rouge. The hotel was torn down but we managed to find this before they destroyed it. It is an antique.”
“Did you know your grandpa and your dad built this with their own hands? They did. They made some beautiful things happen with wood.”
That day when I got home I looked around. I found very few stories in my home. I wanted more. Somehow the need to have the best and most expensive didn’t matter anymore. Now all that mattered was how does this edify my life? What story does it tell? That is where the true joy comes from. It is in the stories.
I feel a need to admit that I am so the opposite of hoarders. I used to get rid of anything. “Things” had no sentimental value to me. I used to always say things like, “this bird figurine is not my grandma so why keep it?” Now I realize that some items hold more than memories. Some items contain the very fiber of my heritage. Some items were instrumental in helping me to mature. Those are the things that I want to use to make my life more abundant. Don’t get me wrong. I do not and will not ever have a house full of tchotchkes just because someone else gave them to me or because they belonged to someone else but I am awed by the true historical things from our family.
My grandmother gave me these bowls a few weeks ago. They were given to her by my grandpa’s Nana. Grandpa’s mother, Irene, died when he was 4-years-old. I was named after her (Irene is my middle name). After she died and his dad remarried grandpa went to live with Nana. She raised him. Nana was his step-mother’s mom. He loved her to pieces. The sad part is that over the years grandma has given me many similar bowls and dishes and I accepted them only because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. After I kept them a while I would pass them on to my sister or mom or someone else who could appreciate it. It breaks my heart to even think of that now. Now, knowing how fragile life really is, I appreciate those little things. Those memories of generations gone by. Those who paved the way before me to allow me to be where I am today.
My grandpa used to eat his breakfast cereal in the small bowl every morning. I wonder if he thought of Nana when he did. I also remember my grandma cracking eggs into it for our frequent “breakfast for dinner” days. Then, I remember using it as a child to crush up blueberries and cream. The funny looking reddish brown bowl was always used for popcorn. Just a year or so ago I wouldn’t have given a second thought to those memories but now, they are part of an abundant joy that I live with.
I treasure the stories. That is what makes a home beautiful.
Linked to: Women Living Well