Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It's Just Stuff!!! Isn't It?

Today, here in the South, we had a winter emergency wherein it sleeted for about seven minutes and snowed for three more and the entire state shut down. We ain't driving in that mess. Southerners are built for humidity and sunshine and winter weather of all kinds will send us skedaddling down to Kroger to clean out the milk, even if we are lactose intolerant and never drink the stuff. It's like a law. 

So on our snow day that wasn't we did a lot of the following: 

(excuse the poor, unedited quality of the pictures, but I am trying to quickly write this for posterity before the chaos I can hear in the bathtub upstairs relocates itself to its normal habitat - glued to my hip)

According to multiple studies married couples start to look alike as they age and this has been confirmed by our seven year old who may have a lucrative future as a police sketch artist. I'm ok with the ball cap similarity because I do love my camo hat, but if I grow a goatee I'm done.  

How much do I love children who can make the potato salad and knead the dough and shape the hamburger buns? #freelabor #ivebeenwaitingforthis

At one point in the day we went on a walk and ended up at my parents' for hot cocoa. I decided to go up in the attic to search for my brother's Nintendo to fill our afternoon. (Not the 64 or whatever crap came after that. The very first edition Nintendo.) But instead of the Nintendo I came across a big black trash bag full of some of my childhood things. The bag disintegrated into a million pieces when I tried to pick it up. Black plastic shreds all over the attic. A mega-mess.

I received a book for Christmas, one I specifically requested, called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I am not a hoarder by nature, but some of my (all of my) children are and so is my Redneck, so I though I could learn them a few things about this Magic.  

This book. Wow. I just really couldn't take too much of it seriously. The author suggests that each and every item in one's house should be handled to see if it "sparks joy." And if it doesn't, you thank it for its service and give it away. You should fold your socks properly so they can rest because apparently if they are rolled up it stresses them out. My poor socks! They probably need a Xanax.

I really couldn't tell if a lot of this book was to be taken tongue-in-cheek or if the author was sincere that I should thank my worn out sorority t-shirts for their 15 years of pajama service. Preston rolled his eyes every time I said, "Listen to this!" and read him a choice bit. I think its magic worked in reverse and actually encouraged him to save more bent nails in peanut butter jars. 

Anyways the book did not "spark joy" for me so I promptly gave it away. 

Like I said, I really do not save things. I am not super sentimental and very often can be heard exclaiming in exasperation, "IT'S JUST STUFF!"

But the stuff in that brittle black trash bag.

There were things in there that made my fingers and my nose and my eyes and my heart tingle with the amount of joy they sparked. 

Toys. Silly toys.

I care nothing about a Teddy Ruxpin, Rainbow Brite, or Cabbage Patch dolls.

But I sat and told stories to the girls all afternoon about these things. 

How my dad's cousin, who is really an aunt, got the Teddy Ruxpin for me the year it was THE Christmas gift. The one people were whacking each other with their giant pocketbooks over. How much she loves me. All about Christmases at my great-Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Carl's house. My Aunt Dorothy's engagement ring I wear everyday. How my Uncle got it out of the pawn shop. How I cried the day their house and their things were auctioned off.

How one of the Cabbage Patch dolls doesn't have the all-important signature on her bottom because my parents couldn't afford a real one and my aunt's mother made one for me so I would have the thing all my friends had and I wanted so badly. How I never noticed until many years later she wasn't the real deal. 

How I saved my pennies for months to buy another Cabbage Patch doll. A brother for the homemade sister. How hard it was and how many extra chores I did to earn $32. The excitement the day my mom took me to Service Merchandise in our white Oldmosbile to pick him out.

The tiny clothes and quilt with all their teeny tiny stitches my Grandma King made for those dolls. And about the dresses Grandma King made for her own three daughters' dolls from the slip of her wedding dress the Christmas there wasn't a dime to spare. How many evenings were spent in their little house at the end of the lane. How I sobbed the night before they moved away, five days before Eva was born.

And then this evening, watching my girls play with these treasures. Dressing up the dolls I dressed up. Enjoying these stories, hanging on my every word, asking millions of questions about these people who came before, who loved me so well and prayed for the children I would have one day. 

The hands of my girls touching things that were so lovingly touched by hands I miss so much. Connecting them

The day I shoved these things into a garbage bag twenty years ago I don't remember any joy sparking through my fingers. 

But oh, did they spark today. 

Grace for Hoarders and Minimalists, too,

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