Pre-Christmas Tradition

My mother needs no excuses to start cleaning.  She spent my childhood shaking her head at my assembled plastic, toy soldiers, or tutting at my lined up matchbox cars.  But at this time of year I can almost – decades later – still hear her saying – ‘Right, it’s time to have a clear out and make room for the new toys you’ll be getting!’  Almost a bitter-sweet feeling combining cleaning my room with the promise of gifts!

And this week, as instinctive as a squirrel burying nuts, I began to itch with the sudden desire to overhaul my room.  Really I’m not getting that much stuff, but I like a good clear out.  that’s an understatement – I love a good clear out.  What is it that makes throwing things away feel so good?  Between ebay, the bin and the charity shop I reckon I’ve shifted about 40% of everything I own, if not more.  Add that to my clothing clear out of a couple of months ago. 



I mean, who needs a VCR these days? and if I get rid of the VCR then I don’t need thirty videos under my bed collecting dust.  I had virtually every love letter, bank statement, pay-slip and publishers rejection letter I had ever received!  Really. In a drawer whose bottom was slowly collapsing.

Life now feels simpler.  Need a stapler?  I know where it is – bottom shelf near the Delia Smith cookery bible.  Need a biro? there’s a cup full of them on top of the chest of drawers, need a dog-eared second-hand novel to read?  erm…go to the library I’ve thrown them all out.

I don’t think we need half of the things we keep for a rainy-day, and I doubt it’s just me who feels suffocated the more things I own (it possibly is just me, tell me it’s not just me!)

I need a notepad, a laptop and a camera.  A few different lenses and a sketch pad and pencil would be added cherries on the cake.  But two shelves full of shoes?  and every colour of craft paper you could dream of.  Well it’s all gone now anyway.  And if it doesn’t sell on ebay I’ll have to get a skip because it’s clogging up the dining room.  Does anybody else carry this Christmas-cleanup tradition from their childhood?  I used to empty all my cupboard space and under my bed and then on the day itself I’d get shiny new stuff to replace it all. 

I’ve never been one for buying needless stuff, I’m not materialistic, I’m a doer (I’d like to think) not a haver. But even I get swamped a bit by choices – shall I read, play computer games, watch DVDs, go on the internet, write, draw…or another million things.  And say I choose drawing, should I use pen, pencil, charcoal, oil pastel – and if I decide pen drawing, should it be on coloured paper, textured paper, in a sketch pad on loose sheets…and on and on until I’ve wasted half an hour setting up – then I start resenting the mess.

 Now I have one book next to me, one pile of stories to update and edit, and….no DVDs to watch (oops I think they ended up under my bed.)

So do you have any traditions for this time of year.  Do you feel the need to clean house and do those DIY jobs before the family descend?  And, for those deep thinkers, why the heck do I get a good feeling throwing stuff away/giving stuff away?  I can’t think of an anthropological reason why I should, but I feel superbly happy at my new sparse existence.

Thanks for reading, comments welcome!


6 thoughts on “Pre-Christmas Tradition

  1. I keep everything – must have a deep-rooted fear of loss but I’m definitely not materialistic. I hardly spend anything on myself. I keep things like notes my friends sent me in class when I was 14, broken printers (in case they’re not properly broken and will magically fix themselves if left to their own devices), tickets from films I saw years ago, in case I forget that day, the people I was with, the mood I was in.. In fact, I’m so ridiculous that when I was in Philadelphia I went to a thrift store and bought several sepia-tone photographs of other people’s lives so I could imagine the backstories. They’re now hanging by ladybird clothes pegs on my “poet-tree” on m mantle piece.

    All that said, I did manage to clear out a good deal of stuff recently and it was wonderful. It feels like taking control of your life, and peeling away the layers that make it complicated. I totall connect with what you’re saying about having too man choices. The other night I was babysitting and had no laptop or TV. I had brought a novel and my Arabic textbook and flew through them. At home I would have listlessy browsed facebook updates, thought about doing something useful, become distracted, whiling the evning away and staying up too late with pangs of guilt. Eliminating the confounding choices is wonderful. It takes self-discipline though, and that’s something I need to work on.

    Hope you post an “after” picture of your room 🙂

    • I think it is about taking control and simplifying. I enjoyed it.
      I don’t want to take an ‘after shot just yet because a big pile of christmas presents has filled the place of the junk! NOT that this is a before shot I might add!! These are during shots! Even when I had lots of stuff I still kept it tidy!!

      Thanks for commenting

  2. Nooo! You’ve thrown all your old books out?! What about giving me first refusal?! lol

    I love this post. I actually have the same tradition. Growing up I used to clear out my room to make room for the new presents too. I invariably threw away 12 bin-liners full of stuff from my itsy-bitsy tiny little room and always loved the new pristine look. I was always amazed at how much stuff I’d accumulate each year.

    I actually have a big clear out a couple of times per year – with everything going to the charity shop. I haven’t had time to do it yet this Christmas but we’ve still got a week and a half to go so I’m hopeful.

    • Most of them I hadn’t read!! but when I own a book I don’t read it, I shelve it, I read lots of library books because they have a date to go back and when I return them I always end up picking more up!

      At least it isn’t just me who does it then
      thanks for visiting!
      PS. I had a follower join during the night and it’s gone up to 138 so it wasn’t a glich in the system. 😉

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