Hanging onto “stuff”

My parents were typical of many older folks in that they didn’t properly plan out their senior years. After they retired, they remained in their large, four-bedroom house where they had raised six children. My Dad wanted to downsize, but my Mom was as stubborn as a mule and wouldn’t consider moving. When they reached their eighties, they began spending the winters with my sister down in Florida. As their health problems became more challenging, they finally reached a point where they weren’t able to make the return trip in the Spring from Florida back to New York. It was then left to sonny boy – yours truly – to clean out the old homestead and prepare it for sale.

From the basement to the attic, that house was CHOCK FULL of every big and small knick knack imaginable. My parents grew up during the Depression and didn’t believe in throwing anything out. Why didn’t my parents plan for this? What were they thinking? They had thirty years of retirement to prepare.

Why do any of us collect and save certain things? We do take great pleasure in the “stuff” we accumulate. Our self-worth is intrinsically wrapped up in the things we possess. I’m an avid reader and over the years I had filled several bookcases with the books I had read. I knew that I would never read or reference most of those books again, but I was compelled to hang onto them and even display them as trophies. Spurred on by my parents’ bad example, I’ve drastically thinned out my book collection over the last two years by selling most of them via Amazon’s third-party seller program (a future post).

This past week, I finally got around to sorting through my CDs and DVDs, many of which I hadn’t listened to or watched in ten or fifteen years. With each item, I asked myself if I would honestly ever listen to it or watch it ever again and more often than not the answer was no. But it was still a struggle to say good-bye to those old “friends.” When I took the boxes of CDs and DVDs to the used record store, they rejected half of them and gave me $40 for the rest. I didn’t even want to think about how much money I had spent in amassing that collection. I had watched most of the DVDs only once.

Since I was still in the mood to toss things, I also looked at my stack of plastic storage containers in the basement that my wife is always asking me to thin out. One was full of textbooks and workbooks from classes I had taken at Kodak in the 1980s. Back then, the company was beginning to encounter many challenges to its picture-taking monopoly, primarily from overseas, and those classes taught leaner, more efficient methods of production as a means to try to stay competitive. As you all know, the company was eventually overwhelmed by digital technology. So why was I hanging onto these obsolete textbooks and workbooks from thirty years ago? I was very proud of having taken those classes and becoming certified in lean manufacturing methods, which I was later able to use towards attaining a college degree. Those books that I hadn’t opened in thirty years had once meant a great deal to me, but there was absolutely no good reason for me to keep them any longer. Into the trash they went.

I’ll continue to chip away at my collections of “stuff” so that our sons won’t eventually have to. I can testify from experience that many/most of the things we treasure so highly will be unceremoniously tossed into a roll-off dumpster by our children without a second thought.

As Christians, our worth doesn’t come from things, but only from Jesus Christ. Sure, it’s fun to have collections of things we actually use and enjoy, but many times we hang onto “stuff” for no good reason.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:1-3

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21

10 thoughts on “Hanging onto “stuff”

  1. Amen!
    I have been recently trying to weed through pictures and school stuff from my 7 children~3 have their own families~ 1 graduating college this week~ 1 finishing up his first year of college~ and set of twins graduating 8th grade~I can’t believe the stuff I saved! I THOUGHT I had given all to the ones that are out BUT EEK! I found more!! LOL! My husband has papers GALORE from bills past and Sports Illustrated Magazines that he never looks at… Trying to coax him to go through it but don’t want to be a pest!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL! I think most of us have this need to collect and hang onto certain things to some degree. I have a sister-in-law and a sister who are almost like the people you see on TV on those hoarder shows, where the “stuff” has completely overtaken the house.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a fun post, brother, and I love how you brought it back to the Gospel at the end! God bless you for your faithfulness! Since we travel constantly I get to donate bags full of accumulated stuff every three to six months. It was really hard at first, but since we’re usually making 20+ hour drives to the next hospital it’s not possible to hold on to everything. Not collecting things has been extremely freeing. I have to literally weigh the importance of every outfit I buy! There’s talk of settling in and buying a house, I hope I don’t forget all the lessons I learned on the road and pack that sucker to the hilt!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, sister! Yup, without Christ, nothing else really matters. My wife is really good about constantly getting rid of the excess “stuff.” I’ve got my work bench area and about eight plastic storage totes I need to work on this summer. Yeah, the more space there is, the more the temptation to fill it with more unneeded “stuff.” Always a battle.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I heard somewhere before that the generation of your parents might want to keep things more than the previous generation…maybe with the Depression experience; have you heard that before?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, I think their experience of going through the Depression definitely influenced them to not be “wasteful.” I didn’t go into great detail in the post, but my father hung onto every item that was damaged or worn out that he had replaced, not to mention all of the metal and wood scraps, old paint solidified in cans, etc., etc.

      Liked by 1 person

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