With 13 years of Christmases and birthdays behind us, our family has accumulated a fair amount of junk.
In recent years, much of the stuff has been cast aside. It’s been cleared out of the kids’ rooms and moved to the third floor playroom — a place rarely used for playing anything other than Wii anymore.
Strewn about the third floor were Imaginext pirate ships, castles and construction sites; Sweet street doll houses, carnival sets and vet shops; Playmobil zoos, outposts and aquariums; Littlest Pet Shop amusement parks, Habitrails, and houses; Polly Pocket dolls, pools, and roller coasters; American Girl horses, beds and beauty accessories; Hot Wheels race tracks, pop ups and matchbox cars; Barbie princesses, dolls and clothes; remote control helicopters, motorcycles and construction vehicles and much, much more.
Over Thanksgiving I asked the kids to clean up the third floor and to start thinking about what they might be ready to part with. When they were done, there was a mountain-sized pile of junk in bags. I’m talking years of Christmases past, ready for the trash.
For weeks, I left the mountain as it was. It seemed a momentous task to sort through and figure out what to toss, what to give away and what to save for grandchildren. But then we got two calls. One from the Multiple Sclerosis Society alerting me that there would be a truck in my neighborhood this week and did I have any used toys, clothes or items to donate? The other was from a friend who was coming to town and needed a place to stay for a couple of nights, and was our third floor guest room free?
It was time to address the mountain of discards. Sorting through the years of toys made me a little sad. I remember wrapping many of them and watching the kids excited faces as they opened them up. I remember the years Adam was obsessed with pirates and the Polly/pirate games they all created together. I remember the boys setting up racetracks in their room and the girls sorting and trading their Littlest Pet Shop animals.
Needless to say, our third floor is almost completely cleared out now. There are still a few American Girl dolls, Barbie’s and a race track lingering behind. There’s a doll house and a spring horse that I couldn’t bear to part with, but the stack of toy bins has shrunk to a small corner of the room. It’s kind of nice actually. Almost makes me want to set up a little den for myself and hang out up there awhile.
But then, Christmas is less than a week away. The boys, bedroom is bursting with Legos and Nerf guns that will soon have to migrate to the third floor to make room for the new. And Lilly’s bed has hit its capacity for stuffed animals.
We’ve still got a few more Christmases and Birthdays to accumulate junk. Soon it will totally shift from toys to sports equipment, clothes and electronics but it will still be junk. And it will be left strewn about the house in bins and piles to remind me of what I love best about my life.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 13, Lilly, 12, Adam, 12, and Jonah, 8.