Stewardship of Life

The New Year Clutter Cleanse

Posted in Just Living by Sharron R. Lucas on January 8, 2010

It’s time! In fact, this is a moment of reckoning that is long overdue. Yes, dear friends, it is time to purge the paraphernalia. It’s time to crush the clutter cartel once and for all. Bold plans call for bold actions. As part of my year of living justly, I’ve decided that a New Year Clutter Cleanse is in order. Yes, you read that correctly—I said clutter cleanse, not colon cleanse.

If I’m really going to do justice to this year’s plan, I need to strip away as much extraneous matter as possible, sift through the stuff, and take out the trash (after recycling and freecycling, of course). I need to move beyond the mentality of “Oh, wow, I might need that sometime in a future decade so I better let it stay and continue to collect dust while I forget it’s even here.”

Don’t get me wrong, I would never qualify for one of those reality shows about hoarding; I don’t have that much stuff. I’ve done some serious de-cluttering already in the past two years. Still, what I do have is too much. I possess much more than I need, and as a result I risk having my possessions possess me and keep me from living life fully and justly.

The fact that my home is still too cluttered became crystal clear as I put away the Christmas decorations last night. Why in the world did I ever purchase a porcelain fox ornament dressed in 19th century English attire? Maybe that was the semester I took British lit in grad school.

Why are so many ornaments made out of plastic? Did you ever think about that? My mother buys each girl a Hallmark ornament every year—a very sweet remembrance, but what a lot of plastic destined to hang out on Christmas trees through the decades! I actually did pack one large box of decorations whose future destination will be a summer yard sale. The Christmas items that I value the most are the ones that my daughters have made over the years. I delight in the clay crèche my oldest daughter created in fifth grade, and I get misty-eyed when I hold the salt dough Christmas trees my youngest girl crafted in Kindergarten. I also treasure the plaster nativity figurines my parents used some sixty years ago, even if baby Jesus has blond hair and his cardboard manger wobbles. Other treasures include a quilted nativity scene wall-hanging lovingly crafted by a former parishioner in New York, a hand-crafted Santa ornament that a gracious Southern lady let my daughter select from her collection, and a twenty-year-old flannel Advent calendar that’s showing some serious wear.

My tree never has nor ever will resemble a photo from Better Homes and Gardens or Martha Stewart Living, but I’m o.k. with that now. What matters most are the memories and feelings evoked by the ornaments that hang on the branches. What about you? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts and experiences on this subject.

But back to the clutter cleanse…

I’ll be going about this project room by room. The next stop is the bathroom where two linen closets await.

Note: For a good post on decluttering, check out Leo Babuta’s blog Zen Habits.

3 Responses to 'The New Year Clutter Cleanse'

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  1. Robert Kieffer Leaverton said,

    Much easier to unclutter when you and you alone are in charge. When you add the input of a spouse the effort does not double but is squared. Susan and I each have our own idiosyncrasies when it comes to saving things and naturally we each want to purge what the other values. Such are the struggles of life.

    All the best to you with your judgment calls on stuff.

  2. Nice thoughts, Sharron! I agree it’s the memories of loved ones that keeps us hanging on to stuff year after year. Like you, I cherish the ornaments my own two angels have crafted over the years. The Rudolph made from colored pipe cleaners s more precious to me than a Rodin sculpture. I applaud your efforts to clean out the clutter.

  3. […] The New Year Clutter Cleanse […]

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