"Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind." — Thoreau
I have written many times about my many years living in a little two-room "barn" in the woods. It was a very simple, although sometimes labor-intensive, lifestyle compared to most of my other years. The first four years I cooked on a two-burner hotplate and a very small microwave oven. For some time I washed dishes in my bathtub. I know, yuck! This did not deter me from having friends and family over. I'll never forget the day my sister Jean walked into the back room of the Barn and I heard her exclaim, "Oh! Goody, you have a kitchen sink!" (She always helped with the dishes when she visited.) Yes, I now could wash dishes without bending over my clawfoot bathtub.
A few years down the road, someone donated an aging gas furnace, so I no longer had to depend on the small pot-belly woodburning stove and a kerosene heater for heat. As the house we were building at the front of our acreage was taking longer than we anticipated (and our love for one another was beginning to wane), I eventually had a secondhand washer and dryer installed as well as a gas stove to cook on. Many years down the road, my children gifted me with my first computer -- of course, I had dial-up internet service. Next came the time my son Matthew was frustrated at my old rotary dial telephone. He said I must be the only one in Texas to still use one. Of course, that meant I had to have a "push-button" telephone so he could check his messages on his new "cell" phone! (I'm not sure if that was the real purpose, as I can't figure out how that worked.)
Was I happier with a few more modern conveniences? No, although I was much happier without the husband when we split!
"Too many activities, and people and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives, but the important as well."--- Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I acquired more, and was gifted with more, adding to the family "treasures" I had to keep in a storage building. When I moved out of my wooded refuge, I began to feel the pangs of "too much stuff". My current home - which I vow to be my last one - is bursting at the seams with all of my accumulated stuff.
My son Matthew had nearly all of the Christmas decor I had saved through the years stored in a unit he had filled with his late father's items. The rental recently got so high ($200 a month!) that he insisted he had to bring my "stuff" to me to go through or he would take them to Goodwill. Aaarrgghh.. I suffered withdrawal pains at that thought. The stack of containers and boxes sat in my kitchen/living room area for two weeks until Carajean generously offered me two "workdays" to help with their disposal... (Oh, I hated that word.) These items had been stored for nearly 5 years, but they were valuable to me.
CJ helped me go through all of the containers. So much I forgot I had - or why I kept them. I mean, who needs twenty cookie cutters -- many of which are duplicates? Goodwill received a huge donation just in time for holiday shoppers. I no longer have room for a large tree.. and can no longer climb to put garlands and lights around the room. There were too many sentimental items I had to keep though. Like the Wise Men my mother made.. the little stuffed teddy bear and rocking horse ornaments I made (my kids already have a plethora of things I made).. and of course, my Santa Claus collection! Believe it or not, we went through that mountain of boxes, tossed, gave away, and combined them enough that Carajean was able to fit them into my already full storage closet! Now, if I can only dig enough out of there to decorate this Christmas!
The second workday was probably just as hard on Carajean, as she worked on plants she brought me, potting and repotting, sweeping, and positioning everything "just so" on my front porch. Not only did she brighten a little corner of my world physically, but her company for those two days brightened my life spiritually and emotionally. There is nothing to compare with spending time with your adult children as you are growing older.
As we approach the holidays.. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, try to simplify your life by putting aside all of the "stuff" that takes up all of our time these days -- computers with high speed internet, cell phones, television and of course Netflix binge watching. Try doing less shopping, decorating, and party-throwing. Quality time spent with our loved ones is worth so much more than all of the high-tech entertainment money can buy. You might just find that they are very interesting people.
And you don't need a cabin or barn in the woods to enjoy the simple life.
Peace and love,