Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Sept. 22, 2006
We were cleaning out Katie's room - shoveling the stuff out is actually a better description - to make room for more bookshelves and a decent desk.
Katie has a tendency - as do the rest of us in the family - to collect things. Well, let's just face it. We're all sentimental clutter bugs.
In one corner of her room, a large plastic container was filled to the brim with books. In another was a used-once or twice telescope she wanted several Christmases ago and a painted bowling pin from her eighth birthday party. Every horizontal surface was filled with trinkets - a miniature Eiffel Tower from our trip to France, birthday girl figurines, plaques from honor choir, several jewelry boxes (also filled to the brim) and small Egyptian figures. And next to her desk were piles of old school papers, drawings and magazines.
We moved from one spot to the next, sorting through books, beads, Barbies and Beanie Babies. In some cases, it was easy for Katie to put things in "keep," "toss" and "give-away" piles. In others, it was agonizing.
It didn't help that I kept "oohing and "ahing" over some of the items.
"Oh, look at this drawing you did!" I exclaimed.
"Mom, that's not very good," Katie declared, wadding it up and tossing it in the trash.
"And look at this cute Beanie Baby," I said.
"Mom, you're not making this any easier," Katie replied, gently dropping the animal in the give-away bag.
I don't know why I have such a difficult time letting go of things now. After all, it was pretty easy for me to move from one stage to the next when I was a kid.
Or was it? As I recalled my childhood, I realized that I sometimes found it difficult to move on even back then.
At about age 11, some of my girlfriends stopped playing with dolls. But I didn't want to give them up yet. I had just received a Barbie and Ken set the year before and I loved the outfits that came with them. And I adored my Matty Mattel talking doll I'd received several years before that. Besides, I had a younger sister who still wanted to play with dolls.
When I was in junior high, one of my best friends suddenly became boy crazy. I was still stuck squarely in the boys-are-yucky-phase and I wasn't ready to move on from that quite yet.
And when early high school and driver's education came around, most of my friends were excited to learn to drive. I was more scared than interested.
As I thought back on the various stages of my life, I realized that I made transitions fairly smoothly in some instances, but went kicking and screaming in others. Now that I'm older, I'm better than I used to be.
But I still have my Barbie and Ken and my orange-haired, freckle-faced talking Matty Mattel. While some of those old talking dolls have lost their "voices," Matty still talks to me.
"Let's have a picnic," he says. Or, "Can we go out?" Or, my favorite phrase - "I love you!"
When I hear him, I smile. And for an instant, I'm transported back to an earlier time.
Maybe that's where my holding onto things comes from. It isn't a desire to live in the past, but to make sure what was good in the past doesn't get completely lost.
But, you can have too much of a good thing. Katie made that clear when, exasperated, she finally said to me, "Mom, you have to move on."
I laughed. She was right, of course.