Space and Treasures

Last time I wrote about working with my husband to decide what to do with the spaces in our home. We have the luxury of enough space to suit our projects. Not all do…

Recently, a friend with pre-teen children told how she had cleared her living room to make way for a time-sensitive project. No sooner had she finished than her son gleefully dragged out his bin full of Legos. Within minutes this wealth of open workspace was filled with his projects-in-progress. You may imagine what ensued! (The Legos were impounded.)

When I was young, we kids received a gift craft set. It had wooden beads painted to be faces, bodies, arms and legs and instructions for assembling them into little figures using adroitly twisted pipe cleaners. I loved those little painted beads; in my imagination they became living characters and I couldn’t wait to bring them to life.

The detail was too picky for our child-sized fingers and although my father helped us finish making a few of the figures, my exuberant, bored, younger siblings soon littered the room with the colorful bits and pieces.

My mother, who could be impatient about gifts of children’s projects that required adult participation, regarded the mess and announced that if, on the morrow, she found ANY of this mess it would all be discarded.

She must have stepped on a bead because the next day I came home from school to find the set, even the finished figures, gone.

Although I knew that she’d warned us, I wailed so bitterly over the deaths of my inanimate friends that my mother softened. But it was too late. She did find one little figure she had missed in the sweep. For years that figure was a fixture on our Christmas trees.

But what took root in my heart was not the intended lesson of “Don’t Leave Your Stuff Lying Around Cluttering Up The Place.” Rather it reinforced my already skeptical views about sharing precious things. I learned to hide my treasures and became reluctant even to admit aloud that I had any.

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Author: American Declutterer

I've had three careers, moved among thirteen states, and cleared four houses after loved ones moved on. Sometimes you just have to look at all the stuff and laugh. Then get back to discarding.

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