Monday, September 21, 2009

Pack Rats

No, I didn't disappear off the face of the earth. We spent the weekend with my father-in-law, helping him with several projects. The three main ones were: helping him do some things around the house to help get it in house-selling shape, loading up a few pieces of furniture and other larger keepsakes into a u-haul trailer to bring home, and going through some of my mother-in-law's belongings to start the downsizing process.

I think I have made it abundantly clear that I love my mother-in-law. She was like a second mother and more than that, a friend. However, one of her less like-able characteristics was her penchant for being a pack rat.

Don't get me wrong, she wasn't anything like some of the horror shows on tv where every room in the house was packed with trash and un-opened boxes from Amazon. However, the attic and every closet of their five bedroom house was packed with boxes that we had to go through to determine if the stuff in it was needed. Most of the boxes were relatively organized and most were labeled, but it was still a daunting task.

When asked about this penchant, Vickie would always insist, "I only keep what I need." Well, this lady, who in recent years was doing good just to get a Christmas tree up, had no less than 20 boxes of Christmas decorations, lights, ornaments, villages, cards, bows, wreaths... One box had five boxes in it, each of which had potpourri warmers in them. Several boxes had printed off emails and I think she kept every greeting card or letter ever sent to her. She was an accountant, and she kept every receipt, bill, letter from an insurance company, you name it, going back far past the 7 years required by the IRS.

She was also an avid quilter, and evidently lived by the axiom "She who dies with the most fabric wins." I think she won. Seriously though, I inherited her sewing machine and serger as well as many of her sewing implements, though much of her stash is also going to her mom. And I had to separate that all out. When we were done we have one bedroom stuffed with items being donated to a local charity.

In all seriousness, this is the first time I've had to go through the belongings like this and it was hard, for all of us. It also made me want to go through my house and throw away half of everything in it. I think I'm going to make it easier on my kids and just give away or sell everything when I turn 80 and live in a motor home with nothing but microwave meals and a couple of changes of clothes until the Lord takes me home.

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