I own a lot of stuff. Mrs Youcantbeserious owns a lot of stuff. We own a lot of stuff between us. We are talking here about household stuff – or at least stuff contained within the four walls of a house. Most of this stuff isn’t worth an awful lot of money. Our house is full of ‘stuff’.
I have a feeling that I touched on this topic sometime in the past. I never look back on old columns; ‘when it’s gone it’s gone’. Anyway, if I wrote about this conundrum sometime over the past fifteen years, you can take my word for it that the situation has steadily gotten worse – even if the intake of new stuff has slowed to a trickle.
We don’t bring home mementos of our foreign trips to hang on the wall anymore. I know we are no different to most other couples when it comes to acquiring stuff. When you are a young couple you bring home Spanish bulls, Eiffel Towers and Coliseums to remind yourself – and everybody else that you have been there.
But it isn’t only relics of foreign trips that fill every empty space on walls, shelves, presses and ‘cubby-holes.’ It’s mostly the stuff that was last year’s ‘thing’ – or more accurately, last decade’s ‘things.’
When a young couple get married or move in together, they acquire the stuff they need around the house. Everything they own has a use and gets used. Then over the years, as stuff becomes redundant or outdated, the old stuff is retired to a top or a bottom shelf, but definitely retained as it ‘might come in useful’ someday’.
We do try to give old stuff away in Casa Comaskey, but by the time we arrive at that decision, the stuff is so antiquated that the next generation just laughs politely and turns their eyes up to heaven. It’s still too good to dump, not everything is suitable for the charity shop – so what do you do, I ask? The attic – that’s the next move.
There is a large attic in our house and no matter what stuff gets to the stage that we don’t know what to do with it; ‘put it up in the attic’ is the answer. Talk about kicking the can down the road! Old computers, radios, Video recorders, heaters, books, suitcases and boxes of everything under the sun. You get the picture? The attic is nearly full ….
I am writing this late at night, in longhand, sitting on a high stool at the island in the kitchen. As my eye focuses on all the stuff I can see by swivelling my stool, I start asking myself what would I really need to take with me if I was moving into an apartment. But all I can see is the stuff I couldn’t leave behind.
There is a plate with an inscription hanging on the wall. I bought that plate on our honeymoon, more than 51 years ago. It came with us every move we made since then and has hung on a fair few walls. The inscription reads; ‘MY HOUSE IS SMALL ﺳ NO MANSION FOR A MILLIONAIRE ﺳ BUT THERE IS ROOM FOR LOVE AND THERE IS ROOM FOR FRIENDS, THAT’S ALL I CARE. This house may be a bit bigger than the one with that first wall, but that message still means as much today as it did in 1971.
My gaze shifts to the top of the fitted presses. Spread along, just under the ceiling are at least thirty mugs: Mugs we have brought home from places all over the world and each one full of memories. There is the 1994 World Cup in America, Trips to Cuba, Las Vegas, Nashville, New Orleans and so on. What can you do with that sort of stuff other than hold onto it? And this is only one room in the house ….
The walls of every room in the house are decorated with family photos covering more than three generations. What could anyone do with these but pack them in boxes – and then move the boxes from place to place until they finally fall into the hands of somebody who doesn’t care – and they get dumped.
Mrs Youcantbeserious is a collector of ornaments and pieces of art. Just look at the cabinets, shelves and dressing tables in this house. No, that stuff ain’t going anywhere just yet! My squash trophies had to take a hike to the attic a long time ago
Did I tell you what all the drawers are full of? Holy God, it would take a week to itemise it; and again, we are not talking about monetary value here.
Can we leave the garage and sheds until another time?
All I can say is may the Lord look down upon whoever has to come and clear out this house after our day!
It is what we value, not what we have, that makes us rich.