The other day, I did some spring cleaning, and it got me thinking about “stuff.” Here’s George Carlin’s take on  the whole thing. Or things.

Like George, I kind of have a problem with loving my stuff. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I have an actual certifiable condition – hello, my name is Ann and I am not a hoarder. In fact, I would love to eventually live in a sparse, trendy condo where the bedroom contains only a bed, table, lamp, dresser, and walker. Why the walker? Because realistically, that’s how old I’ll be when my family will be able to forcibly rip everything else I “need” from my arms.

If I were to describe my relationship status with my stuff, I’d have to check off, “it’s complicated.” The sparse condo side of me wants it all gone. You know when you go to someone’s house and it looks like a hotel? In “together,” people’s places, it’s clear that there’s a theme going, and that shopping research has been carefully managed to ensure that the taupe highlights the teal which accents the grey. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

But my first question is, how do those people have progeny without driving themselves insane? The road to hell is surely paved with Lego, dollar store toys, and old dried-out markers.

Know what this is?

 

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A water blob. When I found it at the bottom of a toy bin I was overjoyed. Why? Because the poor Firefighter Rescue Hero had been shooting blanks for months. When I studied Biology, I used to do exams where I had to look at little bits of anatomy and write down what they were. Now I apply the same skills to toy parts. Oh that? That’s a Power Ranger gun, not a Star Wars one. That picnic basket belongs to the Barbies, not the Lottie Dolls. No, we couldn’t possibly throw out the X, because that would mean the Y would never equal Z again. Kid toy math that makes cleaning and sorting and storing a nightmare.

But keeping on top of the kid stuff is only part of my problem. I’m pretty frugal, so I don’t like getting rid of things that might be useful again. Why would I pay for things twice? This means that there’s a tall can of static guard taking up a chunk of my little bathroom cupboard, even though I wear something static-y maybe once a year. I have an admirable collection of spices and condiments (including things like “epazote” and “ponzu”) because you just never know when a recipe might call for something. I bet you could look in my storage room and find a paint colour to touch up every room in my house, even though we’ll likely repaint before we ever need any of them.

My love for antiques adds even more to the pile. I like thinking of mysterious people from a different time making use of something I’m holding in my hands. I especially like antiques that my kids soon won’t understand the function of. The whole idea of their use might be lost – that is, if I didn’t hang onto them.

I have an egg beater. (In case my Kitchenaid mixer is on the fritz?)

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A gramophone. (In case iTunes is down?)
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A butter churn. (In case of WWIII and we’re rationing butter?)
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A set of canisters, including one for grease. (Another solution for a WWIII lack of butter!)
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I’ve managed to release many of my antiques over the years, because we just don’t have the room, and they really don’t fit in anymore. But where I have a real problem is with personal antiques. If there’s something that reminds me of my grandparents, or that was owned by my great-grandparents, you can be sure it isn’t leaving the walls of this house. Now you’re probably saying, “well, that makes sense – heirlooms are normal.” But this goes beyond a ring or string of pearls.

My grandmother collected glassware, so for ages, it took up an entire cupboard in our kitchen, even though we only used a few water glasses. Don’t worry, I’m not speaking in past tense because I sold them – I recently packed them away in our basement, where they will likely stay until we move, when they will find their new home in our next basement.

My biggest guilt is the TV in my seven-year-old daughter’s room. You can already guess we’re not talking about a flat screen.

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It was my grandfather’s. Here is the receipt for its purchase.
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I want to give my daughter one of those beautiful girly rooms. One with cool, pretty accessories, where she can read her books in a space she feels has been built around her. But right now I have nowhere else to put a big old boxy brown TV. I need to let it go. I’m sure my grandfather would laugh if he knew I was keeping it, and tell me to let it go.

It’s Spring – a time for purging. The cheap crap that I could re-buy needs to go first because it’s using up valuable cupboard real estate, which also has a cost. The kid stuff is an easy one – I’ll match up all of Barbie’s shoes and find them a home with some other lucky OCD mom at the first sign of my daughter’s disinterest. I should set my antiques free so that they can live in a space where they would work better. I can always re-buy them on eBay sometime, right? (Just. Say. No.)

But what about the things that belonged to my grandparents, who I miss dearly? To be honest, I can’t even verbalize why my family’s things might be important. I feel like if I was on a Dr. Phil hoarders episode, he would tell me I should be focusing on memories (friends, please, do an intervention for me before it ever gets to that point). But isn’t it nice to look at an actual thing and be reminded of someone special? To think of the earlier time and place where you were together? To protect the things they took pride in collecting?

But there are limits.

Anyone in the market for a TV from 1955?

 

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