Three years ago, my husband was offered a job that would move us 4 1/2 hours from where we called home. Both of our families live there and our daughter is attending college there. Knowing that there is no way to know where our children will choose to spend their lives when they finish their education, we couldn’t stand the thought of moving away during our last few years of having our daughter at home.
We decided to downsize to a condo where she could live, attend school and we would have a place to stay when either family needed us. We bought a garden home in our new “hometown” and a condo in our old hometown.
After settling into our garden home, we began the overwhelming task of cleaning out our 3,500 square foot home and moving into a 1,600 square foot condo. I started with closets and cleaned out every single one with 3 garbage cans sitting outside the doors. I used one can for donations, one for consigning and one for trash. I got rid of gadgets, clothing, furnishings, linens and everything that seemed in excess. I thought of it as purging and made the decision to keep only the things we needed or that held extreme sentimental value.
We discarded so much stuff that if we had had had one more box or bag of donations, they would have needed to bring a second truck to take away our donations. And as I look back over the list of excess that jammed my closets, garage and cabinets, the only thing I wish I had not gotten rid of is my baby bed. My reasoning was that when I have grandchildren I would likely want a new bed for him/her. But now, as I think about it sometimes, I grieve over that loss. The bed was where my son and daughter started their lives, smiled at me when they awoke and and played with their New York Bear or Baby “Huwwins”. I would now love to have it back so that I could tell my future grand-babies that their parent slept here.
As I’ve grown older, I am realizing more and more that material things only make my life heavier, more complicated and causes endless hours of fussiness over cleaning, maintaining and keeping up with all the things I’ve collected.
While we maintain two homes now, it is the simplicity of owning fewer things, knowing that it is easier to live smaller and more rewarding to live focused on others; that makes the word “minimalist” so attractive to us. Others may embrace minimalism because of “carbon footprints” and living more “green”, but our goal is a bit different.
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ ” (Matt. 25:21)
As our parents age, nieces and nephews receive degrees, marry and start their families, we will be thankful for our little space back home. Paring down has created empty drawers, but hearts full of love for family and friends and a new appreciation for time spent with them.