Seventy-five Years of Stuff and Stories

Is it just me, or has this year’s orchard bloom been unusually short? Seems like the colorful blossoms lasted only days before the trees began leafing out. Or is it that every season flies by more quickly with each passing year?

This year’s May Day launches me into my birth month and my seventy-fifth birthday. I’m not planning a celebration because I held the party of a lifetime for my seventieth birthday. The joy from that gathering of family and friends still resonates.

I intend to spend my birth month contemplating the collection of stuff I’ve amassed over these seventy-five years. Shortly after my seventieth birthday, I moved from the home I’d shared with my husband for forty years to a smaller house next door. Smaller by two-thirds. Theoretically, to fit into this smaller space, all I had to do was give away two items for every one I kept. Two-thirds of my books, two-thirds of my furniture, two-thirds of my kitchenware. That was the theory.

I thought I’d done well until a friend came to see my new-to-me home. After a short tour, she remarked, “You sure have a lot of stuff.”

Mine is the stuff of stories. It’s the stories attached to my things that make me hang onto them with a python-worthy grip. I’m afraid if I let go of the things, which have little or no monetary value, I’ll no longer remember the stories, which have value beyond measure.

fullsizeoutput_1f4fLike this little weeping cherry tree—a wedding anniversary gift from my parents to my husband and me. I’m not sure which anniversary it was, but I couldn’t leave the tree behind when I moved. I had it dug up from the old yard and replanted next to my new-to-me patio. It survived the transplant and is blessing me this May Day with a full bloom, a vibrant memorial to the three most important people in my life.

A while back, I read a bit of advice to those of us who have acquired a lifetime’s worth of stuff: put a label or note on family heirlooms and personal keepsakes, explaining their significance for those who end up dealing with the things we ultimately leave behind. I’m guessing a lot of us are contemplating our abundance of stuff, which is why Marie Kondo, the guru of “tidying up,” has become such a sensation. It’s not about what you throw away, she teaches. It’s about receiving joy from the stuff you keep.

Each day this month I plan to post a short story about my treasures. I invite you to join me in contemplating what among your stuff tells a story—or gives you joy. Each of my stories will be short, and I won’t flood your inbox with emails. I’ll post them on Facebook and my website. We may even figure out that if there’s no story, no joy, we can let go of more stuff.

2 thoughts on “Seventy-five Years of Stuff and Stories

  1. Dennis Carlton

    Last summer I took my mom on a road trip in one of my sports car. This car is a model that the movie Transformers was made around. It is a car I receive a lot of joy from. One stop was a car gathering at a remote farm in Idaho owned by an 85 year old man who had a bit of car “stuff”. His home is in the middle of a clearing in the forest off a dirt road and is surrounded by large buildings that have his lifetime collection of highly desired cars and car parts. As several hundred special cars poured into his “open house” we got to look at his stuff and appreciate the gleam in his eyes as he once again shared his car stuff. I look forward to your stories about your treasures as that is why you have the stuff. Dennis Carlton


    1. Mary Koch

      That road trip with your mom and the visit to the gentleman’s car collection would make a delightful movie. Thanks for sharing that experience.


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