Thursday, December 24, 2009

Out With The Old?

So, when is using the treasured (if somewhat broken) items and traditions a joy -- and when is it time to retire them? -- Anonymous

Oh, boy, that's a tough one. I had--note the use of the past tense--a small box of Christmas ornaments that I hauled out year after year, even though they were not strictly recognizable as "ornaments" by anyone other than myself. We're talking shards of glass barely hanging onto rusted wires. These things were dangerous. But they were OLD and they were FAMILY and they'd hung on MY tree or my PARENTS' tree or my GRANDPARENTS' TREE for millenium, and who was I to break the tradition?
At this time last year, the second Christmas after my mom's death, I sat with that box of broken ornaments on my lap for a long time and asked that question very, very seriously. Who was I to break the tradition of having old, broken things hanging on the Christmas tree? I cried, I held each ornament, I tried to remember who each one had belonged to. I sat very still and tried to get in touch with how I would feel if I never, ever saw each particular ornament again. My meditative state was interrupted repeatedly by The Kitten, who really does not respect such introspective states in anyone other than himself. His persistence reminded me that life is here, now, and demands to be paid attention to. Also, that sometimes I take things too seriously.

Because of The Kitten's help, I threw away most of the ornaments. I threw away the shards, and the shreds, and the shattered pieces of colored glass. Then I hung the two remaining ornaments on the tree. And as I did so, I could swear I felt about 900 pounds lifting from my shoulders. I think that's the way to make the decision: If you retire the tradition or the ornament or the battered but beloved table linens, will you feel lighter? Or will you feel miserable? Will the positive effects outweigh any negative effects that might be imposed on other people? Ultimately, no one can answer that but you. And maybe Your Kitten.

1 comment:

  1. I did a similar thing this year, the fact that mice got into the box and did some damage helped make the decision about what to let go of. Letting go, feeling light