Have you always wondered who the people were that filled up the shelves at Goodwill or the Salvation Army with mismatched cups and saucers and the odd lid to a cooking
pan but no pan? Have you ever wondered why there is only one wooden candle stick holder for sale and not a pair? Why on earth there was a butter dish and cover, matching sugar bowl and nothing else to the set, sitting right there in perfect condition just begging for you to buy them?
I am that person. Yep, sadly, I am part of the problem. Or as I like to refer to this situation as part of MY solution.
Yesterday, Mr. Right and I were putting away dishes from a very lovely dinner party from the previous night. You know the drill, move this to squeeze in that. If I stack this salt cellar that will free up 1 1/2″ space that I can fit in one crystal candle holder and if I put every dessert dish side by side I can use that to form a “table” to stack something else on top.
enough. Thirty years of collecting. enough.
It was just too much. For some reason, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We took the centerpiece off the dining room table and dug in. I was in one of those “moods”. You know, the good kind. You want to toss out, donate and throw away odds and ends and weird stuff you feel guilty about every single time you look at them. We started with the china hutch cupboards, moved on to kitchen cabinets, and even opened the cupboard in the laundry room where I just stash stuff I don’t want to deal with.
Like removing a band aid, some items are easy, quick & painless. A china pitcher from Germany with no lid that I “could someday use for a vase”. gone. A butter dish with matching lid, perfect condition, not a chip, excellent color. Unfortunately, I donated the entire set about 2 years ago and mistakenly forgot to add the matching butter dish. gone. One ugly, ugly tea cup with a seagull painted on it and the china so poorly made feels rough in your hands. gone. Just gone.
Then you come across exquisite pieces of crystal or china that just takes your breath away. With not a hint of hesitation, the word “keep” just tumbles out of your mouth. I happen to be the care taker of some family pieces that are to be passed down. keep. Then tucked away in the back corner are the pottery trinket holders and uneven stained glass candle holders that our boys made me. KEEP. Easy and painless. Looking at those gifts makes me smile, they make me happy. Those pieces have earned the “right” to take up space.
I have a gorgeous, stunning really, hand carved wooden bowl from an artist (Mr. Pulver) who lived a couple doors away from my grandparents. Some fifteen to twenty years ago, my grandparents would ask my mother what “couple” gift we would want for Christmas. Inevitably, it ended up them giving money (they are just too hard to buy for) to buy something we wanted. One year, I spoke up and said I would really like a bowl. A wooden bowl, from your neighbor, Mr. Pulver, nothing else. The family thought I had lost my mind. Why on earth would you want a wooden bowl? You have plenty of lovely bowls. I dug my heals in.
Mr. Pulver had had a heart attack years before and had to retire from his white collar job. He walked 5 miles a day and needed a new job. He would find wood burls in the woods. He carved & created bowls and spoons and even more bowls. He started buying some “fancy” wood pieces to work on as well. Well by golly, a friend started selling them to folks in the big city. You know, Seattle and Bellevue, city folks. They will pay WHAT for a wooden bowl? Just plain crazy. Okay. I will make more and sell more to those crazy “city folks”.
I just happened to get my wish. My grandfather traded some wood on his land for one silly bowl. No money changed hands. My grandmother wrapped it up and gave us the gift. There you go, it’s what you wanted. No enthusiasm at all, just there you go missy.
I was reminded yesterday, how I had chosen wisely.
It was easy to give away plastic bowls,glass bowls,tiny bowls,chipped bowls and yes even one poorly made wooden salad bowl, machine made. I said DONATE, as fast as my brain and mouth could coordinate. easy.
We filled the dining room table surface and started stacking the next layer. It felt good. However, what felt really good was near the end of this spur of the moment cleaning frenzy, I got a stack of tissue paper and started wrapping. Mr. Right brought in box after empty box and hauled out filled boxes of tissue wrapped treasures (for someone else to treasure). He loaded them right into our car.
We got our hat and coats on and took a Sunday drive. Oh not the relaxing kind of calm, look at the pretty fall colors drive. The kind where after you unload all those boxes and a couple bags of clothing to round it all out, you feel lighter, happier really. You actually don’t say a word, he held up his palm and we high “fived” like a couple of giddy teenagers. Yep, it felt that good to accomplish something so freeing. In exchange for boxes and boxes and bags of donations we got a little piece of paper as a receipt.
We gave away boxes of guilt and ugliness and unwanted items that were never going to be used or loved by us. Stepping into our home on the return trip, it didn’t look one bit different. However, we knew each cupboard was less crowded, more organized and contained only items that we valued.
Later that evening when a certain sweet Grand girlie was opening up every single cupboard before and after dinner, we did not cringe. We did not feel one ounce of embarrassment when the doors were opened. Every item was stacked, even and orderly lined up behind each door.
I happen to have the privilege and honor of having some lovely dishes and glassware with which we are able to entertain and share our table with family and friends. It is a real pleasure to serve those people on items that are cared for and treated with value.
“To invite a person into your house is to take charge of his happiness for as long as he is under your roof”.