By Susan Govern
Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to take down the decorations. This usually means putting away Christmas things, but in our house it also means leaving out my Snowmen collection – at least until the end of February.
Yes, I’m a “collector”. But I am not a collector of only one particular thing. My collections are not huge but they are varied.
Starting back in childhood my first collections were comic books (typical, right?!) and since I also loved the t.v. show Lassie, I collected statues of Collies. The comic books outnumbered the statues eventually and gave way to collecting books. I was, and still am, an avid reader. When the Scholastic Book sale flyer was handed out at school, it was like my own personal wish list.
Years went by, and as they did, one “collection” morphed into another. I let go of some things to younger cousins and started on collecting whatever was associated with my newest interest. The one exception has been books – I’ve never stopped collecting those.
Recently after our daughter moved to her own place, I went through closets and made a mental note of things for a garage sale I plan to have this summer.
My plan is to clean things out and prepare for our down-sizing which will happen in about five to six years. When we make the move, I promised myself, we will have only a few precious items to pack and take with us. I will be ruthless in getting rid of things. Nothing was going to be saved except family heirlooms I thought as I looked around. If you believe that – I have swamp property in the middle of Las Vegas I can sell you.
Now I am by no means what could be classified as a hoarder. I have items I decorate with for the holidays: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter. I have western and southwest art items I have collected on our trips which I put out the rest of the year and in between holiday things are stored in containers. Family pictures and the Angels I collect are also interchanged with the western items. Sounds like a lot, but really, Christmas decorations are what I have the most of (doesn’t everyone?).
My problem is not that I collect too much, but that planning to let go is going to be so hard. Each Snowman in my collection was picked by me as a reminder of a special holiday time, or it was a gift from a special person. My western collection started with items I bought on our Grand Canyon Honeymoon and on each memorable trip since. My Angels – well how does one give up Angels? Again, each one is special for a special reason.
I could simply start packing everything up a year in advance when we finally decide to take the plunge and down-size, but then just like the house looking bare and gloomy when Christmas is “put away”, I imagine in my mind our home would look the same.
Memories – that’s what my collections come down to. Memories of people, places and good times. How do you sell or pack away what represents all that? I know that (Heaven forbid) if a fire or tornado would destroy our material things I could go on as long as my family was safe, but it wouldn’t prevent my mourning the loss of my small and varied collections.
I guess that’s the lesson that comes from really thinking things through as we start a new year and plan for a future that’s pretty much a clean slate. We have to be ready to give up the things that hold us back and simply hang on to the memories themselves. With memories, they don’t need boxes to be stored in, they don’t need curio cabinets or shelving for display; all they need is a place in our hearts and they can be safe there forever.
So when the time comes to plan that garage sale – I will put my best foot forward and be sure to “clean house”; moving forward to making plans for a future that will be open to making new memories.