Another introspective post here, so beware.
After I took down all my Christmas decorations I spent a few days furniture polishing everything and re-arranging my “stuff”. By “stuff” I mean the knick knacks, crystal, dishes, art work etc that gets moved to make room for holiday decor. Every year when I put things back together I like to change things up; put out some things that weren’t out the previous year or move things around a bit. And that’s what I did. I put out different “stuff”. And I liked what I had done.
Tonight I was sitting in the living room looking at some of the “stuff” and I had a sudden light bulb moment. The vast majority of the “stuff” wasn’t even MY stuff! Let me explain.
Through my marriage money was usually scarce, so buying art, nice china, crystal etc was simply out of the question. We had received some lovely things as wedding gifts, and I displayed and used them proudly, but adding to the collection wasn’t an option.When my mom sold my grandma’s house, I received some furniture, dishes, knick knacks, jewellery, and some photos and art to hang on my walls. When my mom died, her house was a veritable treasure trove of “stuff”, most of which had belonged to either my grandma or great aunt. I got rid of most of it, but I brought home things that appealed to me, sprinkling them throughout my house.
So the light bulb moment – even though the “stuff” is all stuff I like and enjoy having around me, it isn’t mine. It is from the past. Other peoples’ past. My mother’s past. My grandmother’s past. My great aunt’s past. Which yes, is in a sense my past, but also in a sense, not. But since that’s all I had, that’s what I surrounded myself with. These were things that no doubt would have evoked memories for those who had originally owned them, but for me, they’re just pretty things that belonged to another generation of my family.
Things are changing. I am changing. My life is changing. And my stuff is changing. I still have, and always will have the “stuff” from lifetimes past. But now I am adding my own stuff. Telling my story through the items I am collecting. The framed photographs of my children. The painting we bought in Cuba and had framed to go in my kitchen. The metal sailboat art Stephen bought me in Goderich during one of our camping trips, which hangs in our bedroom. The vases we bought in Costa Rica, currently adorning a stand in the spare room. The beautiful print we bought at a street art fair in State College, PA last summer, which we had framed and hung at the bottom of the stairs in the basement. And most recently the gorgeous print Stephen bid on at the grocery store, just because I stopped dead when I first saw it and exclaimed how gorgeous it was, and wouldn’t it look perfect in my living room. It is now in my living room, hanging above my couch.
I will always keep the treasures from generations past, but I am adding to them with my own memories, and gradually the “stuff” that surrounds me is taking on a new face – my face.