Today we carried our Christmas bins up from garage storage shelves into the apartment. This also brought to the forefront once again the issue of stuff, specifically how much stuff we have vs. how much we want and need, and where to put the stuff we want to keep.
Holiday Stuff: It’s REALLY Personal
Christmas trees and associated decorations are intensely personal. In a way, the Christmas tree reminds me of the American Thanksgiving turkey. Many people have one as a sort of centrepiece to the holiday, but beyond that, the trimmings and what you put with, in, on, and around it are as varied as the U.S. population itself.
Every family has its own traditions, favourite decorations, and “we’ve always done it this way” in terms of exactly what, when, where, and how much stuff is put around the house and on the tree.
2008 has been a year of visiting the past, with a lot of reflection and a lot of stuff. Looking at our Christmas ornaments, I realise they represent not only individual taste, style, and preferences, but also family traditions and stages of life. For me that means:
· New Jersey, childhood, my mother’s collection of ornaments, some from her parents and many fragile, old-fashioned glass ones
· single life, when I started what became a tradition of buying an ornament in each place I travelled
· married life, when my mother gave me the box of family ornaments. They mingled with my late husband’s ornaments, many of which were hand-made by his mother. As couples do, we bought more ornaments together, and also continued adding new ones from our travels.
· motherhood, when we started a second tradition of giving my son and stepson an ornament every year, related to their interests or our family trips. Other ornaments were made by their little hands at primary school.
· moving to Australia, when I stored the most fragile ornaments – where else? – in Mom’s attic and shipped the small, soft ones to Sydney. We gradually added Australian ornaments, along with ones we continued to find on our travels, especially in Asia.
· my current life with Clive, in which we’re further mixing ornaments and enjoying the process of adding to them as we travel and have new experiences together. The last one we purchased was in October, Santa playing the bagpipes, from a shop on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Stuff Moves Around
Like other stuff in the world, where the ornaments are now isn’t necessarily where they may be later.
My son now owns the New Jersey ornament box, which is now the Washington, D.C. ornament box. His personal collection, given to him over the years by his father and me, is still in Australia. One of us will hand-carry it to the U.S. sometime, since we don’t want to risk putting it in the mail.
And I plan to take some of my late husband’s mother’s hand-made ornaments from Australia to Connecticut, to my stepson and his three boys.
Bringing up the Christmas bins put me literally and figuratively back in the middle of stuff – physical stuff and my feelings about having too much of it.
We’re blessed with great space in the apartment, but the entry area now has Christmas bins cohabiting with New Jersey boxes. The New Jersey boxes would ideally go into the garage as a staging area, but they’re heavy and we’d rather unpack or at least consolidate a few before lugging them down, only to bring them back up later.
Unfortunately, our drawers and shelves are already full of stuff, so existing stuff must be rationalised and purged to make way for the new stuff. We cleared 54 years of stuff from my mother’s house without resorting to storage, and we’re determined to do the same in Sydney.
People Care about Stuff
Stuff is important to people and most people, including me, care about some stuff. At not quite 6 months into blogging, I’m amazed at how many blogs focus on stuff — antique stuff, craft stuff, house and garden stuff, fun stuff, serious stuff, familiar stuff, and foreign stuff.
Like Christmas ornaments, stuff reflects and reveals much about the people who own and care about it.
I still want to reduce my stuff, and we definitely want to get the New Jersey boxes out of the entry foyer. But first we’ll put ornaments on the tree, and enjoy the Christmas season.
We did buy a shredder last week, and I’m in love with it already.
Filed under: Sydney |