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“I think the greatest thing about things is they remind you of people.” —Fred Rodgers, as told by Jeanne Marie Laskas in the New York Times Magazine
I keep things. I frame things, I hang things on hooks and doorknobs, I collect things in mugs and baskets and wooden boxes. I shove things into drawers marked “important stuff.” I keep things in physical files and electronic folders. I surround myself with things in every room of my home.
I’m thankful for my things.
In this age of Marie Kondo and Marsha Ramsland, and of divesting, diminishing and de-cluttering, the value of “things” has taken a beating. Oh, I have embraced the concept … for a year I kept a blog called “365 Days of Divesting,” in which I detailed how I shed myself of material items such as clothing, furniture and sporting equipment, as well as intangibles such as fears, regrets and grudges.
I’m still grateful for my things.
Marie Kondo’s wildly successful approach instructs us to keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy: “Thank them for their service – then let them go.”
Good advice … but so much of my stuff, so many of my things speak to my heart and spark my joy. The vintage book table I bought for $10 at a Goodwill store for my first college apartment. The assortment of pins and buttons I’ve persuaded the people wearing them to give to me. The art I’ve acquired from my various adventures around the world.
I collect sunglasses and key chains and pencils with whistles and snow globes and mini-fans on top of them. I collect comic strips and inspirational quotes and books and books and books.
And then there are the things, as Mr. Rogers says, that remind us of people. My mother’s watch. Recipe cards in her handwriting. A porcelain dish my father brought back from World War II. His cuff links. Shiny black jackets emblazoned with the MTV logo that my sister and I have worn to rock concerts.
A card from a friend with just the right message at just the right time. A hand-crafted quilt, embroidered towels. A necklace that brought me to tears when I received it. From my sister, a small baby-days glass jar with painted ribbons in blue and pink that our mother had kept. Kid art, pinch pots, and ceramics decorated by tiny hands.
Things offered to me in love and friendship and laughter and joy.
I love my things. But I have also been known to gift them to someone else, when I am moved to do so. I have spontaneously given away jewelry I was wearing because someone admired it. A memento from my grandmother reminded a friend of his own family so much that it now resides in his home. And, although she doesn’t know it yet, I’m giving one of those precious yellowed recipe cards to my sister because her name is on it in my mother’s handwriting.
I am finding much joy in the surging interest in Mr. Rogers and I can’t wait to see the film with Tom Hanks. And now that I’ve read Fred Rogers’ sentiment, I’m finding additional joy in all of my things.
Wishing you joy this Thanksgiving.
Andrea Doray is a writer who remembers that Julie Andrews also sings of “My Favorite Things” in the film “The Sound of Music.” Contact Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org with your favorite things.
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