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!