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Valentine’s Day is a holiday full of meaning. This week, we saw kids get excited about giving the “just right” valentine cards for the girls and the boys. Teenage sweethearts got a thrill selecting a huge, gaudy stuffed animal for their sweetie. Folks in “mature” relationships crowded the greeting card aisles on February 14.
All this talk about love set a thought rolling in my mind. Why do we love our stuff so that it controls the way we live in our homes, relate to other people and spend our money?
If you really analyzed the value of the “thing,” the real reason you hold on to it is because you love the ideal function of it, the event at which you received it, or the person who gave it to you.
We all own something that is so cool, which we never or hardly ever use. A foot spa was an example in my house. I used it a few times when I first got it. After that, when I used it I had to rinse the dust out of it first. Why did I keep it? When I feel like having my feet soaked, my feet are usually too tired to fetch the foot spa, figure out where I need to sit in order to reach an outlet or sit where I want and then go round up an extension cord, run the water until it gets warm, grab a towel, find a seat, get comfortable, then hear the sound of my 1-year-old crying through the baby monitor. Score one for baby.
I recently got rid of the foot spa. Now when I want to soak my feet I flip the lever in the tub when I am taking my shower. Not exactly the same experience but the same effect. So waste no time and rid yourself of the foot spa (or steam cleaner) in your life.
Remember the trip to “Awesome-town”? Everywhere you went you experienced something amazing and so you picked up souvenirs so you would never forget it. After you unpacked you realized the Pope Bobble Head didn’t give you the same feeling sitting on top of your television as it did in Rome, but what do you do? You’re afraid you will lose some of the memory of your experience if you get rid it, yet you really don’t want to look at the Pope’s wobbly head whenever you watch the six o’clock news. Getting rid of the souvenir does not eliminate the memory from your memory. The brain is an amazing thing, and since I would wager a bet you took some pictures on your trip, you will always be able to remember “Awesome-town.” The lesson to be learned here, however, is on your next trip stick to the digital memories.
In my experience working with all kinds of people, the hardest things from which to detach are the things (useful or not, pretty or not, sentimental to you or not, valuable or not) that you receive from a well intentioned person whom you love. Your 6-year-old gives you a bottle of headache inducing perfume. Your grandmother gives you your grandfather’s gallstones. Your mother-in-law gives you four boxes of your husband’s little league trophies. Your mom “lets you” have the family’s collection of Beanie Babies because they are “worth something.”
What do all these things have in common? You don’t want them! Toss them in the trash and feel guilty. Take them to a consignment or Goodwill store and be found out by your frugal shopping loved one who gave you the gift. Busted! The solution? Find someone else in the family who might covet such a possession. If there is no such person (i.e. no one in your family has an affinity for gallstones), then buy some black trash bags and have a cleansing ceremony. Throw out the guilt with the garbage. And because the bag is black no one will be able to see what you have tossed, thus eliminating the potential for familial anger.
In the wake of a holiday often celebrated with trinkets, find true love in spending time with family and eliminating the things in your life that rob you of space and fill you with guilt. You’ll love yourself if you do.