Ever since working on our very first home renovation project last winter, I've been trying to find a place to put things away and get rid of things we don't use very often, or really ever. And I must be doing a pretty good job, because Kyle told someone earlier this summer that I gave away everything that wasn't nailed down. I took it as a compliment.
A self-proclaimed pack rat all my life, I often find it challenging to get rid of things, especially those that I hold sentimental value to. But after Charlotte was born, it seemed only fair to give her a bedroom in the house, which required a bit of spring cleaning.
Since Grace got what used to be Johnny's bedroom, Charlotte was slated to get my childhood bedroom. Now, let's be honest. The reason Grace got the other bedroom is because my old bedroom was still full of many of my childhood possessions, and things I was certain I would never part with. But it did seem like we should make room for someone new, and get rid of some things that I hadn't seen in years.
Growing up, my mom convinced us to get rid of old toys by having a yard sale. It was a way to get rid of some things we had outgrown and we could get a little extra spending money. Anytime I had trouble parting with something, like my entire collection of Babysitter's Club books, mom would remind me that getting rid of things I didn't use anymore was a chance for someone else to get some use out of it. And somehow that's always stuck with me.
When we were cleaning out the office for our renovation project, I cleaned out my Mary Kay cabinet. I had several years worth of samples that I wasn't going to be able to use for my customers, and Kyle suggested I donate them to the Elizabeth Ann Seton program. Each year, they host a Mom Prom event, and I hoped they would be able to provide makeovers for some of the prom-goers, or even provide make-up samples for women going on job interviews. Executive Director Dawn Morris told me she was thrilled with the idea, and even made special valentine gifts for their clients with some of the samples. She thanked me several times for the donation, but it was really me who was grateful for a chance to pass something on that would be useful to someone else.
Parting with make-up samples was one thing. Parting with my nearest and dearest childhood possessions, well, that was another story. But in order to get a room for Charlotte, I was going to have to get busy.
Fortunately, I have a wonderful mother and mother-in-law who agreed to help me on this monumental project when I was home on maternity leave. My mom helped me to clean out the nursery, while Kyle's mom entertained both of my girls, and I am forever grateful to them both.
The first thing I got rid of was two diaper boxes full of Beanie Babies. During the initial Beanie Baby craze, my mom helped out in the hospital's gift shop, and often came home with some of the latest and greatest Beanie Babies for us. I was especially partial to the bears and the cats. And while they were fun to look through, they weren't doing much good sitting in plastic tubs in my old closet. So, I picked three to save, and boxed the rest up for our church's Operation Christmas Child shoebox program. Picturing the delight on those children's face to find a sweet stuffed toy for Christmas brings me much more joy than those same stuffed animals sitting in a box in my closet.
And I moved on to the next thing to get rid of, two plastic tubs of Prom and formal dresses. After high school, I saved those dresses, absolutely certain I would have cause to wear them again. And to this day, I have not. But in the spirit of making sure my things went to good use, I found the Cinderella Affair in Bunker Hill, which accepts used formal dresses and provides them to girls in need for a variety of occasions. So, I packed up not only my old Prom dresses, but also all my old bridesmaid dresses, in hopes someone will feel as pretty in them as I did.
Those two weeks, I certainly did a lot of cleaning in that room. I enjoyed going through old things, remembering special times or places. And in the end, I saved two small plastic tubs of things, like pictures, my Salutatorian medal from high school, my diplomas, coins I got on my trip to Europe and a few other things I just couldn't bear to part with.
But we packed boxes and boxes of things to take to Goodwill, in hopes someone will be able to get as much use out of them as I did. I'm not sure I could truly become a minimalist, but I definitely see the value in letting of some things that others might find a new use for. I'm sure one day Charlotte will be grateful, as she finds her own treasures to store in that room.