The ‘stuff’ we’re made of

Today is our last day in our home in New York and also a blue moon. I’ve tried to work in a ‘once in a blue moon’ reference in this post but couldn’t do it without making it cheesy.

I’ve attempted several times this week to post about the packing and purging process but I haven’t been able to finish a post.  My first attempt was a rant against the tremendous amount of stuff in this house and living in a culture that treats material possessions and economic wealth as a right.  I mean seriously what have I been doing for three years? Filling every closet and corner with stuff?  Why didn’t anyone stop me?  Anyway it wasn’t a good post.

This week we dragged everything out of the house and had a garage ‘take what you want’ sale. Our friends, neighbors and family showed up to sort through the remnants of our life here.  It felt great to be getting rid of so much stuff to me, but I noticed not everyone in my house shared the same disgust of the amount of things we had accumulated and the joy to see it go.

“That was the first piece of furniture we bought and put together when we were married” was Dave’s off handed comment as he watched a bookshelf be carried away.  I never knew him to be sentimental about things and I unkindly teased him so.
“Stuff has memories.” He said simply, immune to my teasing, as he turned away from the carnage of memories in our garage.

Our son (who has turned 5 during this whole house moving process. We have a 5 year old!) was not taking the stuff purge well at all.  I’m beginning to suspect that gifts and stuff have a more significant meaning to him then simply things.  I do vaguely remember as a kid feeling a connection to my toys and things as friends, Toy Story and Velveteen Rabbit style.  So despite the months of prepping we have done to prepare him it was too much to see other kids walking away and playing with things that used to be his. “Wait!”, he told me when she saw more children walking into the garage,”Let me show them the stuff that I don’t care about, they can have that.”

As the week wore on even I, the self-proclaimed stuff hater, began to feel some sort of emotional connection with our things.  Giving away the picnic basket we got for our wedding was the end of romantic picnics with my husband.  Even though we haven’t been on a romantic picnic since, oh I don’t know.. before children, with the picnic basket around there was always the possibility that it could happen.   Getting rid of the crib is the end of the babyhood stage of our lives.  Getting rid of the craft supplies is the recognition that I will never actually make a scrapbook.  For me, and I think Dave too, having the right stuff seemed to impart a sort of identity that we wouldn’t have without the stuff.  I am the girl who cans her own food, Dave is the guy who changes his own oil.  I can pretend I am a snowboarder because I have all the right stuff.  We could be table tennis champs because we have all the right gear, in reality we never play.  Even our careers and family roles come with stuff attached to them, law books, medical texts, cookbooks.  Dave, who was full of profundities this week, drove this point home for me when he said, “there goes all the stuff I need to be a good husband,” as a guy hauled off with a tote bin of tools and car maintenance junk.

So we move tomorrow morning, stripped down of things that we use to create an identity for ourselves and carrying only the identity that God gave us, co-heirs with Christ.   Jesus was pretty clear about this whole issue when he told us to sell all our stuff and follow him.  We can’t fake our identity as children of God by carrying around the right stuff, we don’t have to have the right tools to make disciples of all nations.  There is nothing tangible that we need, that God hasn’t taken care of.  It helps to have that foundation to return to and to know who I am as a daughter of God as I work through this little pseudo identity crisis of things.

We still have a couple more weeks before we fly out, but tonight we will sleep for the last time at 477 Rugby which is only something you do…..once in blue moon ;-P