40 years of marriage, three children, two apartments and three houses, two dogs and six cats have multiplied into countless permutations of furniture, furnishings, appliances, books, dishes, paintings, and knick-knacks. Lots and lots of stuff.
Preparing this past week for the “Spring Extravaganza,” a church-wide yard sale, I thought a lot about all the things we possess—so much to use, organize, manage, and store. Eventually, we sort through it all, deciding what to keep, what to give away, and what to tote off to our local thrift stores. We really don’t need this much, yet have it we do.
Much of our married life was spent building our family and our home. Now one family has become four, with our three children living lives independent from ours with partners, housemates, and children of their own. We are back to where we started, the two of us (plus three fur people) in one place. But where we are now is far different from the second-story Nittany Avenue apartment, simply furnished with wedding gifts and hand-me-down furniture. Substantial mass accumulated along this 40-year journey.
Assembling items to set out on a table for the yard sale is a retrospective. I found a box of things that hung on the rough-hewn kitchen wall our our circa 1815 two-story in Northeastern Pennsylvania. These items, beyond vintage in age, have sat in a box in our attic for almost twenty years. These old cooking utensils, trivets, and cookie cutters held watch over our dinner table while our children grew up and our family formed. What they represent is priceless; however, their real value lies not in their tangibility but rather in the significance all the times gathered in that kitchen, all those ordinary days and years flowing together to form a family. I no longer need the stuff of that time to honor and preserve its memory.