The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Today I bought a couple of (fairly) watertight storage boxes with the intent of putting some things in our storage room into them. When I was helping with cleanup of the flood damage last September, I saw too many basements where everything the people owned had been completely destroyed by the mud and water. Although we don’t have anything truly irreplaceable in our storage room, I think it’s prudent to at least take some precautionary measures.

Armed with the boxes, I went into the storage room to figure out what should be stashed. My eye was drawn to the pile of large manila envelopes stuffed with Christmas cards from years past. Yes, that’s right: each year we gather the hundred or so cards that we receive, and put them into neatly labeled envelopes which go on the storage shelves. We’ve done it for eighteen years (since 1995) and every year Laralee says, “Are we really going to look at these? Ever?” I assure her that one of these days we’ll be glad we kept them.

Today, looking at an entire shelf of cards and pondering whether they’re “important” enough to go into our anti-flood containers, Laralee once again pointed out that it’s just silly to keep all of them. “In fifty years, Kyra is going to hate us,” she said. “When it’s time for her to put us into a home, she’s going to be cleaning out the basement and find all of these cards, and have to haul them to the dumpster.”

Sadly, I had to acknowledge her logic. In eighteen years, I haven’t ever thought to myself, “I’m kind of bored this afternoon– maybe I’ll pull out the Christmas cards from 1998 and read through them!” So I went to work, emptying the envelopes into a big pile. I glanced through them, laughing at a few clever cards or remembering old friends we don’t hear from any more. By the time I was done, I had a pretty impressive pile. Kyra and her friends buried me with the cards:


Assuming we get around a hundred cards a year, and considering this is eighteen Christmases’ worth, this pile probably contains close to two thousand cards. It was pretty heavy on top of me.

We hauled them upstairs and half-filled the recycling bin. Then I went back to the storage room and found all sorts of things that went straight to the trash. Broken blenders, stale food, parts from appliances we don’t even own any more, cracked picture frames, old posters, stacks of papers from college, and dozens of other odds and ends that make absolutely no sense to keep. Load after load went to the trash. I had only intended to spend a few minutes stuffing a watertight box, but in the end it was three hours later when I brushed off my jeans and looked at a storage room that was quite a bit more empty, and a tad more organized.

Oh, and in the end I only had enough stuff to fill one of the bins. I guess next weekend I’ll tackle the other half of the room and fill the other bin…