I just had one simple goal for today: Turn the dining room back into a dining room again. As it turns out, it wasn't so simple after all.
You see, since May the dining room has become the collecting point for a whole lot of we-don't-usually-have-this stuff. Boxes of photographs to sort and divide? Put them in the dining room. Folders of documents to scan and organize? Stack them in the dining room. Our share of keepsakes and miscellaneous family stuff? Stash it in the dining room. In the end the table was covered as well as the seats of the two extra chairs and there was a tidy row of piles and boxes on the floor against two walls. It might have covered more but there is furniture on the third wall and the fourth essentially doesn't exist; it's open to the living room.
It worked because we haven't needed the dining room to function as a dining room. Until now. Thanksgiving is coming and since tradition reigns supreme, we'll be eating our turkey at the dining room table. Besides, the need for sprawl has passed and it's time to find permanent homes for the things that now belong to us. I'd done a little but I needed to finish the job.
Somewhere along the way, however, I got lost. It started innocently enough; I was going to store some of the items in the armoire in the extra bedroom. There were already some family keepsakes in there so it seemed to make sense to add some of the new things to them. Only you know how that goes. I needed to make more room.
Before long I had the bed covered with piles of stuff...things that needed to be put somewhere else, books that could be donated, papers that should either be filed away or thrown away. Wayne stuck his head in at one point and asked if my clean-up campaign was going forward or backward as it seemed the dining room was looking better but the guest bedroom was definitely getting worse.
I flipped through the pages of our wedding book and smiled seeing names of people I haven't thought about in years. I was disciplined enough, however, not to open the cover of one of the old cookbooks that belonged to my mother. I'd have gotten lost in its fragile pages for sure. There handwritten stories, both by me as a child and by our children as well as placques and awards Wayne and I earned in school and in careers.
It's funny the stuff we hang onto, isn't it. Or maybe it's that others hang onto for us as the large envelope of materials from my childhood came from my mother and my grandmother just as the stories and art of our children were gathered by me. There isn't a lot of either but it's enough to remind us of those days long ago.
And I tried too as I rearranged and organized to label and explain. How else will our children know that I made that cross-stitched lap throw for Grandmother Arnall 30 years or so ago if I don't. They don't have to know that I forgot it was in there as my mother-in-law sent it back to me when they closed up Wayne's grandparents' house. Our experiences these past few months have shown me the value of identifying the who-what-when-and-where if at all possible because there will be a time when I'm not here to do it.
I didn't get the dining room completely cleared out but the pile that's left to deal with is small. And I didn't get the armoire completely finished either although guests would have a clear bed to sleep on if we had any. I did, however, enjoy getting lost...even if I never left my house.