OPINION | Cleaning house opens door to memories, lifts heart to ceiling

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HAGÅTÑA  — The word for the rest of my 2020 is “downsizing.”

First, it was my body.

And now, the house.

The former is going well.

The latter is nearly impossible.

We’ve lived in the same house 19 years. That’s a long time to accumulate stuff. But add to that the departure of seven children who left their stuff, 31 years of home education and 20 years of Down syndrome intervention, and you can imagine how much there is to sort through, despite multiple purges through the years.

Much of it is in the “school room,” an extra room at the back of the house. It is really the “school storage room,” since we never — ever — conducted school there. It was just where we kept everything.

The stuff includes an entire wall of books, two filled cubby storage shelves, two full-size file cabinets, one half-size file cabinet, a free-standing bookshelf, two other storage cabinets and multiple pieces of equipment that have been used for therapy over the last two decades.

The other day, I needed a place for some current school work, so decided I could start the house downsizing with some small file boxes. Three such boxes sit under the book shelves. I assumed they all held things I could toss without much thought.

I was wrong.

I happened to pick the box that held my home-schooled students’ work from 2001 to 2003. At the time I had two high schoolers, three middle schoolers, two elementary students, and two preschoolers.

Of course, I could not simply dump that box.

I just had to look.

Oh my.

It was full of wonderful memories from our golden age of home education!

Essays upon essays from my teens and preteens showed me their developing thought processes. Mom-designed worksheets and assignment sheets were encouraging evidence that I was once energetic and somewhat organized.

A post-9/11 speech written by 17-year-old Matthew almost brought me to tears.

I found limericks and poems, math papers, and projects.

Hours after I began, I had reduced the contents significantly, replenished the scratch-paper supply and filled the shredder to overflowing.

But I was reminded that memories are a great hindrance to downsizing.

That first box got the Big Purge off to a slow start.

But it lifted my spirit beyond the ceiling.

I’ll never be a minimalist at heart.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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