Life Less Cluttered

It had to happen sooner than later. It was long overdue. After 30-plus years, it was time to tackle the attic. I actually thought I’ve heard it whispering in recent years as if to say “enough is enough already.”

With hubby at the top of the stairs and me at the bottom, we began. First came the bags of winter clothes followed by blankets long forgotten and the half-finished quilt I started in 1989. I had good intentions but a lack of time.

Then came some well-packed boxes of the usual Christmas stuff. There were lots of things given to us by aunts and grandmothers and other relatives over the years. Aunt Mary and Grandma Ziegler often made ornaments with rhinestones and fabric that rivaled those of Hallmark status. And my mother has contributed with holiday tablecloths of various colors.

There also were the handmade holiday items our son made from about kindergarten through first or second grade. Yes, I kept the wooden Santa with the cottonball beard.

Many of these things are too sentimental to part with even when the glitter has faded or Angie the Angel has lost her glow. We would need a 40-foot Christmas tree just to hold all the ornaments and bulbs that we had accumulated. I have to admit my better half showed restraint when there was more in the “save” boxes than the “throw away” boxes.

Then came the plastic totes filled with books and news clippings I have collected over the years of our careers and from our son’s school days. It would be sacrilegious to toss those out, wouldn’t it? The husband is frowning now.

Many of the items in the attic were part of a well-meaning plan to “restore” someday, including the old, metal high chair that collapsed in a heap at the bottom of the attic stairs. I envisioned it rechromed and painted the bright yellow it used to be, but that never happened and the legs were rusted beyond repair. I wanted to cry when it went to the landfill.

When the wedding gown reached the bottom of the stairs, I knew it was time to let it go. Forty years have not been good to the dress. It’s best to remember it in photographs when neither I nor the dress had many wrinkles.

As box after box descended the stairs, it was as if we were reliving each decade of our lives. From the wedding day matchbooks to the son’s college graduation cap and gown, we sometimes had to stop and laugh or cry a little about the things we’ve experienced as a family.

Did we really keep all those toy trucks and tractors and now politically incorrect toy guns? Every toy related to a birthday or holiday, marking the passage of years through the eyes of a child. Now someone else’s kids are enjoying G.I. Joe and his army of vehicles that have deployed elsewhere.

Every now and then it’s good to purge our lives of the “things” that weigh us down. The attic is a good start. This latest cleaning out has taught us that less is definitely more. Our load has been lightened. Try it.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at