More stuff left my house this weekend. Marcel hauled away a trailer load of garbage – old curtain rods and the ugly pink venetian blinds that were in our house when we moved in, an old crib mattress, an old cooler that no longer cooled much due to the cut left by a stray saw blade, part of a computer desk, the broken doll crib I’d salvaged when my parents moved off the family farm, and lots and lots of old paper and other garbage. I also have another couple of boxes and bags ready for the next trip to goodwill.

By now, we’ve probably gotten rid of enough stuff to fill a small home. Where did it all come from? WHY do we have so much STUFF? We don’t think of ourselves as overly materialistic, and it’s not like either of us are shopaholics. So why do we have it?

Truth is, most of what got junked yesterday was either hand-me-downs or stuff we inherited with the house. We hadn’t bought much of it, but somehow, at some point in time, we inherited it – or it inherited us. And now it no longer has a use in our home (and some of it never did).

Yes, Marcel and I both have some packrat tendencies. We have trouble parting with something that is either a) of some remote sentimental value (like do we REALLY want to throw away the heart-shaped box I made and then filled with homemade candy when Marcel and I were dating and I was a poor student who couldn’t afford a valentine gift?) or b) might be used some day (what if we own a cabin some day and we’ll be looking for an ugly set of pink venetian blinds – THEN we’ll be sorry we threw these away).

If you came to my house, you’d look around and wonder “where did they FIT all of that stuff?” Because it doesn’t exactly look sparse yet, even AFTER we purged and culled. And, even though it was a little cluttered before, it wasn’t like we were living in one of those houses where you have to blaze a trail through piles and piles of assorted collections (my siblings will remember Tommy and Sarah). (What’s the name of that show? Clean Sweep? Well, every ONE of those homes looks a whole lot worse than mine EVER did.) But over the years, we stuffed the closets, cupboards, and storage spaces full of all those things we couldn’t bear to part with, and somewhere along the line, the clutter seemed to multiply. (I could never confirm it, but sometimes I suspected there were naughty things going on in those closets – leading unfortunately to litters of baby clutter being reproduced.)

Some day, I’ll write a long post about WHY I’ve been on a fierce quest to rid myself of so much clutter. There are so many reasons. It’s been a bit of a spiritual journey, actually, in an odd way. Part of it relates to our quest for more simplicity that I wrote about a few months ago. But more about that later. I’m still mulling it all over in my mind, and don’t feel quite prepared to put it into words yet.

This past week, after a very unfortunate incident (involving a sewer, a plumber, a big snaky machine, and a messy floor – blech) forced me to tear apart the last remaining stronghold in the battle against clutter – the corner of the basement where old things go to die – it’s been on my mind a lot. I even used the experience during church – to share how cleaning junk out of your basement is not unlike a journey God wants each of us to take. Intrigued?

Yes, you’ll hear more about it soon. But first, I have to figure out what to do with the old hockey equipment, the baby back-pack I bought at a garage sale that none of my kids fit into any more, and all the craft supplies I never get around to using… Want to decorate a willow wreath for Christmas, anyone? I’ve got bags full of them – cheap!

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