By Megan Wirts
Everyone knows about spring cleaning, when you open your windows after a long cold winter and let all the dust out and the fresh air in. It’s refreshing, and I’ll be honest, the snow hasn’t even fallen yet and I’m ready for spring. Cold weather is not my favorite. But this isn’t about the weather, this is about cleaning. Specifically, what I like to call the Pre-Christmas Purge.
What is the Pre-Christmas Purge, you might be asking? In my house it is one weekend a year, usually the 1st or 2nd weekend in December, when you go into your bedroom, your child’s bedroom or basically any room in your house and realize that you are becoming overrun with stuff.
Too much stuff.
And what do you get at Christmas? More stuff! AHH!
Not that I don’t love giving and receiving gifts, it’s just that sometimes you don’t realize how much unnecessary stuff you have until you get all your Christmas decorations out and you feel like the walls of your house are closing in on you and how in the world are you going to fit any more stuff in your house!
You become overwhelmed. There are toys the kids haven’t played with in years. Clothes that have been hanging in your closet for 5 years because eventually you are going to lose those last 10lbs. (Besides even if you do, you will realize that the dress went out of style 3 years ago and you aren’t EVER GOING TO WEAR IT!!). Dresses that your daughter wore to her first daddy/daughter dance and choir recital, but she’s grown 5 inches since then and they are just shoved in the back of the closet never to be worn again.
You also realize your son could put anyone on the television show “Hoarders” to shame and now you fear that every knock on the door could be a camera crew. You then think you might lose your mind if you find another “super special stick because I found it while walking in the woods with my uncle” and don’t even get me started on the rocks. WHY DOES HE NEED SO MANY ROCKS!!?!?!?!
You know your small people need new clothes because you also noticed that your son has grown out of all the school clothes you just bought THREE MONTHS AGO!!! So, you go through his dresser and realize he literally has 1 pair of pants and 2 long sleeve shirts that actually fit him properly. Which means, whether he likes it or not, he’s getting clothes for Christmas. You then holler to your sweet husband who is trying to watch a football game on his day off, to “Grab some boxes and trash bags! LET THE PURGE BEGIN!”. Since he is a wonderful sweet man, and because of my dystonia he knows I can’t do this on my own, he pauses his game (Thank you Technology!) and it begins.
We gathered both the small people and explained to them what was about to happen. In years past, we would have skipped this step because negotiating with a 3 or 4-year-old is impossible, and we don’t negotiate with terrorists. We used to go through their toys while they were blissfully unaware, playing at Nana and Papa’s house. Did they ever wonder where all those toys went? Not once! So, no, all 25 stuffed kittens were not your favorite sweet daughter. You never even missed them. Oh, and son, remember that toy robot you begged for one year and you played with twice? Of course, you don’t, YOU ONLY PLAYED WITH IT TWICE!!!
Now that they are older, ages 10 and 13, we allow them to participate in the purge. Not just because it’s free child labor and forces them to clean their rooms, but because we do respect them and want them to have a say in what they want to keep and want to donate. We split up in teams of two and by the end of the day we had a car filled to the brim with boxes that will be heading to the nearest donation bin. Halfway through the purge, I thought to myself, “I should save all this for the spring and have a garage sale!” and then I remembered the last time I had a garage sale and how much work that was and came to my senses. *shudder* Plus, I needed all of it out of my house before I lost my mind.
This year we are trying to be more mindful of all the “stuff” we are giving for Christmas. Then we might not lose our minds a few weeks before the big day and purge our lives away because we are feeling overwhelmed and closed in.
Besides, Christmas shouldn’t be about the stuff. It’s about the love, joy, kindness and gentle peace that this time of year brings. It should be about families coming together and neighbors caring for one another. It should never be about what we are getting, but about what we are able to give. Not everyone can afford to give stuff, and that’s okay. Likewise, not everyone needs more stuff. Getting stuff at Christmas is inevitable though, don’t get me wrong, I love a good gift…maybe a cute new apron or a massage gift card, but it’s not that important, really. But if you are reading this husband…*hint hint*.
Let me propose this though, along with the stuff we give to others this year, let us also give more time of ourselves and more kindness to those around us. Let us give more laughter to our friends, more bedtime snuggles with our small people, more snowball fights (when the snow finally gets here), more hugs when you get home from work, more phone calls to old friends, more butterfly kisses, sweeter good nights and more beautiful good mornings.
Go ahead, do your Pre-Christmas Purge and open your home and your hearts to the joy and peace of the season.
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