It isn't just 'stuff', I found, but reminders of a life that has mostly changed

Looking back on the year, how did you move ahead in your life in spite of the challenges? For many of us, it was time to really look at our home's possessions to decide what should accompany us into the future and what should be sent on to new homes or the dumpster. That was my goal, but it was harder than I thought it would be and has barely begun. It isn't just "stuff", I found, but reminders of a life that has mostly changed, of past adventures that will not be repeated.

There are the boxes of elegant wine glasses, proudly purchased from a chic store when I lived in New York so many years ago. They had been part of many large parties and intimate dinners over the years, but those would not be happening again. They needed to go, along with the delicate bone china tea cups inherited from my mother's collection. Tea is drunk from sturdy mugs now that can go in the dishwasher.

Books either not yet or already read fill a room. Recipes now too complicated to attempt sit in folders. Christmas ornaments for a large tree that will never again stand proudly in the living room are in the attic. Boxes of family photos and scrapbook materials that may not be assembled together into the story of my years await in organizers. Tools for projects that require more energy than I will have again hang expectantly on pegboard. Most of these must be sent on their way to new homes, new families to appreciate and use them. It is hard to accept that they no longer belong here, that their time as possibilities to come has passed. Still, it will be a relief to no longer have them in my care. They were useful friends from a different time, and can be part of someone else's new adventures now.

The closet was a problem. Would I ever again be attending the many lectures, club and board meetings that had kept me enjoying dressing up all my life until this year? As a child I had been taught that it was disrespectful to others to not make an effort in one's appearance, so through over fifty years of corporate work in large cities and frequent business travel I always enjoyed dressing appropriately, not leaving the house without adding earrings and a touch of perfume. Although it currently is "not cool to look like you care", that isn't me. Even after retirement, trips to Costco or the library required nice clothes instead of sweatpants and a T-shirt like many friends enjoy. But is it time to just send these pretty things on their way, or instead hope this life will return?

I've decided to compromise. I'm saving some of the good going-out clothes but will be like June Cleaver without the pearls and start wearing the cashmere around the house; it feels so nice against the skin anyway. And orange juice looks very colorful in a beautiful goblet, with tea later sipped from a delicate china cup while wearing real shoes, better for the feet than fuzzy slippers it seems. Then it's time to sort the photos. In the end, I don't know what the new year will bring, but at least I will greet it in style.

Peggy Keonjian is member of the Jottings Group of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

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