The word for 2008:
This is going to be the year of Getting Rid of Stuff. Because there is way too much of it lying around, getting in our way, taking up our time, pressing heavily on our consciousness. Blame the car wreck, blame getting older and persnickety, blame anything you like- but it's going...going...gone.
It wasn't always like this. When we got married in 1973, we started out with our clothes, our wedding presents, a set of everyday dishes from my grandmother's garage, his stereo system, all our albums (remember those?), his electric typewriter and a portable TV on a stand, which was a gift from his folks. We still had some things stored at our respective parents' houses, but not much.
Then we aquired an entertainment sytem unit. And an unfurnished apartment for which we had to find furniture, including the small drawered desk that's been floating around our houses for 34 years as a kitchen workspot/sewing table/bedside table/kitchen island again. And a sewing machine, with the resultant bags of fabric, and notions. And an ironing board. And aluminum shelving for the books we were picking up at the resale places, the germ of the permanent office that he's had everywhere we've lived. Even if he had to build one in the garage.
To be joined by really nice bookcases. And then we had a baby, who needed a crib and a bureau and a changing table and a bathtub and clothes and books and toys.
Then we put almost everything into storage while he went to grad school. And while we got along remarkably well without a lot of it, it was like Christmas when we moved into our first house and unpacked all the boxes. Yay, our stuff is back!
Once we had a house, we needed a lawn mower and hoses and garden tools and a playhouse and a washer and dryer and refrigerator and a big boy bed for Brother, so Sissy could have the crib. And a larger entertainment unit. And the kids acquired more toys and books and art supplies and tricycles. And we bought more books. And a food processor.
Then we had to get bunk beds for the kids, so Miggs could have a room to herself.
After which we bought a larger house. And more furniture. And had another baby, who doesn't remember ever not having a computer or a VCR, with all their accompanying hoo-hah. Eventually, we'd have three. And everyone continued to acquire stuff.
Older relatives began to die and leave us things. Interests were picked up and dropped, but not always the paraphernalia. Oh, lots of things were outgrown and discarded, but a fair amount of things were kept for various reasons- sentiment and hard-headedness, mostly.
And we lived in the same house for two decades, without the impetus of a move to make us ask 'why are we keeping this?' and throw things away.
Finally, the time came when everyone grew up and moved out of the house. But no one moved very far, so it made sense to leave lots of their stuff here. And with the advent of Ni and Bubs, we just started the whole kid cycle all over again.
(Though we have never reached the same depths as my mom, to whom the hugely tactful architect she consulted about some renovations remarked, "I can see your grandchildren are very important to you" when what he really wanted to say was "Damn, woman! Show some self-control here! I mean- damn!".)
But no more. Everyone is getting in on the act.