Saturday, February 03, 2007

Going Through Boxes

One of our goals this year is to get through 52 boxes in the attic. One a week.

This may not seem like a lot, but doing one box a week is better than we've done for the past 33 1/2 years we've lived in this house. Of course, for a lot of those years we were putting stuff IN the attic, not taking it OUT.

And not only were we putting stuff in the attic, but so were the kids. And it is A Truth of Life that when kids go away to college, they come home in the summer with stuff, but the stuff never leaves when they do in the autumn. It stays behind. And grows. Exponentially.

Textbooks breed in my attic. So do holey sweatshirts and hand weights and head bands and jock straps. It's indecent what they do up there.

So we're working at moving them out. That's the theory anyway.

So when our daughter was home at Christmas, we said, "How about going up to the attic and seeing if you can't get rid of some stuff?" And so she went up and came back down with half a dozen boxes and set them in my office, and proceeded to laugh herself silly over what she found.

Mostly there were boxes that said IMPORTANT! ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL! DO NOT THROW OUT! -- and she went through them, throwing everything away, going, "Why did you let me keep this stuff? This is junk! Why would I want my notes from second year high school German?"

I don't know. But apparently they were absolutely essential when they migrated to the attic. The attic was six boxes lighter when she left.

Then our youngest son came home and went up to the attic and got about ten boxes and came down and pitched virtually all of it out as well. He got trash bags and filled them and put them out by the rubbish bin. "There. That's taken care of," he said. It took him about an hour, all told. A few days later he left.

Suddenly the bags started migrating back in.

"What's this?" I said, when I caught The Prof with a bag coming in the door.

"He can't just throw these things out," The Prof said. "We might need them!"

My brows lifted. It must be said that I was not the primary instigator of the "let's de-rubbish the attic" adventure. "We might?" I said doubtfully.

"Mmph," said The Prof on his way back upstairs.

There is a distinct difference in the way Father and Son deal with attic detritus. Son takes one look and if it isn't immediately obvious that he will need it sometime in the next week, it's gone. Father examines each piece with excruciating care, evaluates its possible future contributions to the welfare of the entire family for the next three generations, and then decides on the fate of each piece.

The Myers-Briggs personality people would have a field day with these two.

Let me just say that a few bits have made it into the Revised Version of The Trash. More has been carted off somewhere else (the basement? I shudder to think. And I Will Not Ask).

I'm doing my bit. I've got my box down and it has, God help me, my notes in it from high school Spanish. Also the paper I wrote for senior English lit, also a bunch of books that my children chewed on more than read.

And while I had no trouble at all sending the notes and the paper to the dust bin, I am rather less inclined to part with the books. I can still see the teeth marks on some of them. And I remember countless hours of reading all of them aloud to my children. The memories are priceless -- and maybe worth keeping a few of those books for. The best of the lot will go to the grandkids (I've already informed Mr Toss-It that his coming child is going to get a box of books quite soon).

52 boxes? Maybe. We'll try. But there's a lifetime of stuff up there. Some of it isn't Absolutely Essential at all. But some of it brings back memories long buried.

For that alone -- for taking out again and touching the memories -- a few things at least are worth keeping.


Blogger christa said...

I can just see next years project. Clearing out 52 boxes from the basement.
Definately keep the books. I know my step-mother has first edition Dr. Suese(sp?) book that sh read to her kids.

04 February, 2007  
Blogger Jennifer Y. said...

Your attic sounds like my parents house. They have boxes and bags of stuff that were mine and siblings. They need to clear out some stuff. My dad is the type that says, "We might need that someday." My mom says, "Toss it." We did recently find my journal from 1st grade and some other elementary school journals...they've kept them for almost 20 years.

04 February, 2007  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Good luck with the basement, Christa. I stay out of ours. That's The Prof's domain. He has his office down there --and all his tools and workbench and sundry stuff I don't even want to think about.

Jennifer, so you're one of those kids who brought stuff home and left without it!!!! Ah ha! My mom always said, "Toss it," too. And she did. Maybe that's why I tend to keep stuff around. I do enjoy the trips down memory lane that finding a book or an arrowhead or a corsage entails.

And obviously your folks kept some stuff if your journal from 1st grade was still there. My mom kept some of mine, too -- like a story I wrote in 5th grade which she put in the safe deposit box! (Maybe she knew something I didn't know!)

04 February, 2007  

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