by Maxine Davis
We are just coming out of the holiday season, and I bet you have seen at least one picture of a burned house on television or in the paper. These things happen.
A while back, I was having lunch with a group of friends. We began talking about keepsakes and sentimental Christmas ornaments. Everyone was saying that these items meant more than they could say. Whatever would they do if something happened to them? These weretreasures that they just could not bear to lose. One could not envision a table without the crystal bowl that belonged to her great-grandmother or, heaven forbid, if anything happened to the Christmas ornaments they had lovingly collected for years. These were priceless pieces of family history. Everyone agreed that it would be tragic to lose these things–that is, everyone but me. My thinking on this subject was a little different.
I thought, but didn’t say, “Well . . . sure you can bear to lose them. They are only things!” And I know if tragedy did strike them and their houses burned, every one of them would look at the blackened rubble, take the hand of a loved one, and thank God their family was unhurt. That’s when a person realizes that all those treasured belongings were just things.
Oh, sure, you may have promised grandmother’s china to your daughter. That nephew can’t wait to get that antique Camaro Super Sport. There’s furniture you loved, clothes you paid a fortune for, jewelry, and, yes, Christmas ornaments, that, if you look them up in a company catalog, some are worth hundreds of dollars today.
But after a fire, you don’t dwell on these things. Reality is staring you in the face. You take a loved one’s hand. You accept that things happen and, no matter how you feel at the moment, it is for the best.
I know this.
Years ago, I was in Scotland and received a call that our house had burned during the night. My husband was there and was not hurt. During the long flight back home, my one wish was to see my husband and hold him in my arms.
The fire had started in one of the cars. They said it was one of the tires exploding that probably woke him up. That’s all that mattered. He woke up and got out. Today, you would never know it had ever happened. We moved, and we moved on. And here we are years later, and the house if full of “things.”
I have reached the point in my life that I now want to de-clutter—throw away, give away and, in general, minimize the things sitting around to be dusted, the things in the closet, the attic and garage. Have I pared away the clutter? Well, no, not very much, but I am slowly working on it. By the way, could I interest you in a book? A pitcher? A collection of Christmas mugs? Oh, all right…. they mean a lot, and I may want to give them to a niece . . . .