Dismantled Traditions

Christmas ThingsToday dawned full of potential. It was my designated day to do more work in my garage. I am still purging things I will no longer need, will no longer use, and no longer want. The garage and the linen closet at the last bastions of this first effort. Then I will fall back, regroup, and decide if I want to do it again.

My thoughts there are the elimination of some furniture so that the contents of my house better align with the interior size and layout. I have a large chest of drawers and a dresser in my bedroom. That’s about 2.5 times the storage that I need. I could do with a small chest of drawers. There would then be room for a small chair where I could sit in the morning to put on my shoes or sit and read before bed or when I wake.

I have a huge leather sofa and overstuffed chair in my living room. They take up a large part of the room, particularly with the large ottoman that’s part of the set. Wife’s recliner is still in there (covered with the partially-digested collection of pictures that I’m sorting). Wife’s desk is still in the dining area, where it takes up room and acts as a catch-all.

The linen closet contains a mish-mash of old linens. I need to empty it, sort everything, haul off about 75 percent of it, and replace a few things with new. Much of the contents is 20-years old or more.

These are things I’ll deal with once the garage is completed. So, I rose early, made myself some coffee, and worked on waking up. I fed the Girl and cooked for myself. I sat at the table working through breakfast and praying. Wife died 32-weeks ago this morning. I reflected on that as I ate and prayed, thanking God for provision and asking for wisdom as I continue to think about what I want to do and what I should be.

I have no easy answers there. The truth is I’m just working for a paycheck at the moment and serving my integrity. I said I would stay on for awhile and so I will. But I struggle with lack of interest in my work. My self-discipline keeps me going, but neither my heart nor my mind is in the work. Most of it lacks intellectual interest and most of it is intellectually unchallenging. But, I digress. I prayed as I ate and talked to my Girl. I looked over my left should at my portraits of Wife and talked to them a bit as well. I felt sadness flow over me. It’s not the drowning, paralyzing sadness of depression, but deep realization that what I want I cannot have. It’s loss.

After I cleaned up, I had another coffee and looked down deep for some steel. I walked the Girl then we opened the garage door to let in the cool (and smoke-free) air, and I cleared the staging table I’ve been using for sorting. The boxes for today were our family Christmas decorations. I picked one off the stack and opened it. They haven’t been opened for a couple of years because we spent the holidays out of town in 2011 and only did a little decorating in 2012. So, most of the things had not been looked at for nearly three years.

Much of the things I knew I could load into the 4Runner for donation. I had three or four boxes in the car in a half-hour or an hour. Then I came across a couple of boxes that probably have deep meaning for my children. I pulled a few items out and photographed them. Then I sent them via text to Daughter and asked her about them. After a short chat, I decided to ship much of those things to her.

So I boxed them up and packed the fragile things carefully. Young Son came out and helped me seal the boxes so they would be prepared for shipment. We loaded them into the 4Runner as well. Then Young Son returned to the house to fix some food.

I stood in the garage for awhile, wondering whether another box should be opened and the contents dealt with. I realized that I had just dismantled our family Christmas traditions. My work was appropriate and justified. It is a good thing to pass on those things to Daughter, who will use some of them to carry on the family traditions. They will be there with her when Older Son and Younger Son are ready to share some of them.

I felt a profound sadness that this part of my life is ended. Last Christmas Wife said to me, “I think this will be my last Christmas.” I responded “It might be, we don’t really know.” But, I also felt the ending there as well. I knew a lot more than she did, but saw no reason to share that knowledge as there was nothing to be gained. It would change nothing we would do. So, I shared the time with her as best I could.

I have no idea what new traditions, if any, I will establish. This year there will be none. I’m considering going out of town for both holidays. I’m not sure I want to be in the house during that period of time without Wife here to share it with me.

After a time, I went into the house, refilled my water bottle, and gathered up my things. I drove over to the UPS store and posted the boxes for Daughter. Then the Girl and I drove into Carson to drop off the remaining things at FISH. We drove over to Sonic for a hamburger and a strawberry shake. (The Girl loves tater tots, so I shared.) Then I fired up Geosphere, located a nearby geocache, and we logged our find for the day.

I completed the 31 Days of Geocaching Event. I maintained my streak. I’m working at not being compulsive about geocaching, but maintaining a streak is an interesting thing. It gets me out and away from my usual haunts. It give the Girl and me a chance to explore someplace a little different, even if it’s local.

Now I need to get on with whatever is next. I think I’m going to empty the shredder and then work through some more of the old files. There’s a couple of hundred pounds of old paper that needs to be ground and disposed of. Those records are so old and useless. They’re just taking up space.