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Stuff: In Which the Holidays Again Cause Me Panic January 9, 2013

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

I love my family and my friends and the very thoughtful gifts I receive around the Christmas holidays. I especially love acquiring books I want to read, DVDs I want to watch and rewatch, music I want to hear. I get some silly gifts that make me laugh. And Tim tolerates, over the course of autumn, my picking up artsy things I really want, handing them to him, and instructing him to wrap them up for me for Christmas.

Because truly, if something is going to come into this house and take up space, I would like to want it or—even better—need it.

It is when I begin to try to find places to store these new things that the shit hits the fan. I don’t have room for any more stuff. In trying to stuff something new into a drawer, I see that there is too much stuff already in it, and what is all this stuff, and do I really need all this stuff?

I empty drawers. I go through closets. I edit, but usually only slightly.

Part of the problem in letting go is sentimentality—with books, for instance, something to which I’m sure many of you can relate. Of course I could buy/borrow that book if I ever truly wanted to read it again. But I feel an attachment.

Or someone has given me something lovely that I don’t even remember I have til I pull it out of its stashed place. “Awww,” I think, thinking of that person or an event or a shared history.

I remember some celebrity claiming that it was the “Awww” feeling that was important, so he had begun taking a photo of the item, then getting rid of the item, because he could recreate that feeling by looking at the photo. It’s an interesting thought. Practical.

My situation could be much, much worse. I come from hoarders, and I react to that constantly, so things are not as bad as they might otherwise be. I don’t have children, so that’s a huge amount of stuff I never have to find a place for.

Last summer we had that yard sale. That helped a bit.

Still, if I counted each thing in the house as separate thing, how many things might there be? Thousands, certainly. Tens of thousands? How many of them, if they disappeared tomorrow, would I not even notice were gone?


1. Bridgett - January 10, 2013

Ugh don’t get me started. I feel like I’m constantly pruning and decluttering, to no avail.

indigobunting - January 15, 2013

And Bridgett, with five people in a household, I can only imagine.

Bridgett - January 15, 2013

Luckily the third floor is kid-central and so I just don’t go up there very often…

2. Eulalia Benejam Cobb - January 10, 2013

We are all drowning in material posessions. It’s our punishment for living in a first-world country.

indigobunting - January 15, 2013

Well put.

3. Mali - January 12, 2013

I can relate. We live in a four bedroom house. Every room (except perhaps the main spare room) is full of stuff. And I need to clean it out. I cannot imagine what it would be like if we had kids!

But you’re right – so much of the stuff is kept because of sentimentality. Or frugality. Which sometimes rears its head in my personality, fighting with the equally present extravagance.

indigobunting - January 15, 2013

Frugality—yes! (And I loved your new post.) What if you get rid of something, only to need it later? By buying that thing again, another copy of that thing, are you contributing to more material things in the world? Yet frugality like this can lead down the path to hoarding.

4. Helen - January 13, 2013

Your post is so timely; January is the one month that I tend to shop for things other than groceries. The amount of stuff I have absolutely no need for, but that I find myself wanting to buy because it looks good, is appalling.

indigobunting - January 15, 2013

It’s scary, isn’t it? I want to have time to deal with the stuff. With a job and a bit of a life, it isn’t easy.

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