We get good mileage out of tidying up our homes in early December until early January. It’s a natural time to clean up to make room for invited guests and for decorations such as the Christmas tree.
Things get moved here to there and temporarily stored away to make room for new items, and it gets us thinking about our homes and the things we own. In this 1500 square foot house we’re (practically ) five grown ups, so this is a regular necessity.
It happens in January when we remove the decorations, and look for space and a place to put new things. It’s a natural time for renewal and revaluation.
If I had New year’s intention it might be this: to strive for fullness with an impulse toward simplicity. I like how Leonard Koren puts it: “To pare down to the essence without removing the poetry.” Luckily, life provides opportunities to practice this.
I’ve had plenty practice sorting essential items from useless ones; before we settled into this home we moved apartments four times in seven years. Not to even mention the several apartments I moved in and out of before we married.
Several summers ago, the five of us lived comfortably in a small apartment without our belongings for an entire month. After we returned home I looked around at what we owned and thought, “If we moved tomorrow would we take it with us?” I then packed several bags for the Goodwill.
Clearing my father’s home of his belongings was eye-opening and helped me reconsider my attachments to things, even the sentimental. With it came the comforting realization that you can have vivid memories without relics to conjure them.
When I was four our home burned to the ground and we lost everything. Even catastrophe offers an indelible moment; it was stuff and stuff is replaceable.