Posted in Musings and Mutterings

Throwing Away a Life

My mom passed away years ago. Her belongings have been distributed or donated long ago, but her personal items have been living in a trunk at the end of my bed for many years.

I know there are items in there, but had forgotten how much until my Aunt asked me to find a specific photo of my dad for her memoir. Finally, after forgetting far too many times, I took an evening and opened the trunk containing what’s left of my mother’s memories.

I found photos of my mother, from infancy forward, a few photos of my dad (including the requested photo) and lots of photos of my  parents and siblings throughout our lives. I found graduation scrolls, dance cards, corsages, yearbooks and love letters from various beaux my mother had, along with a box of letters from my dad. After I’d finished, I looked at the piles strewn about and wondered if I should edit before I put things away again. These memories had lived comfortably in their musty trunk for years, why would I bother this time capsule now?

Sitting there among the boxes I realized how no-one past myself and siblings were really going to care about these photos of my mother’s life, or her graduation scrolls, or her dance cards, and none of us were ever going to care about that stuff nearly half as much as  my mom had. My sons and daughters might enjoy having a few photos of Meemaw and Peepaw, as would their cousins, but they weren’t going to want the whole trunk full of memories. I mean, really, who can relate to the dried up corsage, carefully preserved in a plastic bag with the name of the dance and her escort pinned across the top? I’ll admit, it’s interesting to see the care taken, and the aura of history that pervades is tempting to preserve, but it’s really just a 60-year-old crumbling flower when you get right down to it.

So, I decided it was time to edit.

I gathered all the old corsages and looked at them one more time, before carrying them to the trash and setting them into the container. Such care given for something I’m basically throwing away. I did throw away a few other items, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw out too much because the idea settled on me that I was throwing away a life. A lifetime of memories and collections. And even though I know that those things won’t matter to anyone after I’m gone, I still wanted to honor the items.

I’m not finished editing that old trunk, but I’ve also decided it’s time to start editing my own memory legacy. Time to pitch the things you think you need to save, but really don’t, and to organize what really means something to me. I know that when my children are left with the task of “mom’s things” after I’m gone, half of what I’ve saved won’t mean nearly as much to them as it did to me, but isn’t that how the cycle goes? After awhile, my daughter will edit my items and so on and so on.

We never own anything. We just take care of it for a little while.

 

Posted in Musings and Mutterings

No Good Ideas for a Title

There. That says it all.

I just have no ideas for a catchy, or descriptive, title.

Holiday prep around here used to have a set of guidelines and processes. We’d always gotten out the lights and decorated the house the day after Thanksgiving, and we had usually gotten our tree by the first weekend in December. Those first two weeks in December were the best time to decorate since my daughter’s holiday concert was typically the second weekend in December. The children and I (both my own and the daycare kids I had) would make snowflakes from coffee filters and wrapping paper from paper grocery bags. We’d decorate the house with our “art”. Baking was a scheduled event and one particular CD had to be played every season. Sounds stifled when you read it, but it had a comfort to it. A scheduled, unhurried rhythm that got it all done.

As the children grew, things changed. We expanded our holidays to include our “family of choice” ( meaning our dear friends) and new traditions formed. Those traditions came fairly organically. Now that my children are grown and on their own, and the majority of our family of choice have moved to other states, our traditions have also changed. Just not as organically from my point of view. It’s taken me some introspection to get to where I am.

The first year we lived here we decorated everything. Everything!! Lights were everywhere and it was fun. We had a pretty good crowd of people visiting, so it felt right to be festive.

Last year we did very little. In fact, it was so bad I ended up going to the store at the last-minute and finding paper gift tags to hang on a tree just to say we had one. It was depressing, but we were traveling and I couldn’t justify putting everything up just to leave it while we were visiting our son.

This year, Hubby was too busy to really help, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the more I can do on my own, the better it will all be. To that end, I picked up lights that are easy to put on and decided that I’d take a “less is more’ tact with everything.

I was much happier this year with that. The whole pressure to have a perfect looking home or the perfect cookies or the perfect light display à la Good Housekeeping was trashed. I decorated to please me. Just me. If the kids liked it, then fine. If not, oh well. I bought new decorations and found new places for older things and did whatever I could (when I could) and didn’t beat myself up if it all wasn’t just perfect. I always try to do the best I can, but I didn’t berate myself if the results weren’t magazine photo worthy, especially if I liked them.

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No tree is really complete without a cat under it, is it?

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I guess the real point here is the evolution of my holiday and decorations in some ways reflects my life. When I was younger, it was all about structure and the children. As the kids began to fly the coop (and we did as well by purchasing a different house) my life was one big transition. Now that everyone has settled in for a bit, my life is … well.. what is it? It’s busier than I thought it would be, and it’s also quieter now and then; I find I have time to do what i want to do.

I supposed the goal for 2015 is to figure out just what I might like to do!