I spent last weekend working at a charity garage sale for P.E.O., which is a philanthropic organization providing educational grants, loans, and scholarships for women. It made me realize that I am not in peak physical condition, since I apparently don’t even have the strength to stand upright for several hours at a time without exhausting myself. Even so, I enjoyed it, more or less. We were fortunate that the sale was held during the first relatively cool weekend we’ve had here in the Phoenix area since last spring. If it had been held the weekend before, we would have all died of heat stroke. As it was, the temp reached the low 90s. But the workers and the buyers were all Arizonans and thus already desiccated and leathery, so we thought the weather was swell.
I spent the previous couple of weeks going through my house in order to find things to contribute to the sale. I was really proud of myself for being able to part with as much as I did. I even got rid of some furniture, and now have at least a yard or two of wall in my house that doesn’t have something covering it or leaning on it. I was also able to clear out quite a bit of the left-over inventory from my late Scottish gift shop, which I’ve had packed away in the library cabinets since the store closed over ten years ago.
It’s not that I’m a pack rat. No, I’m not. Really. It’s just … well, out of sight, out of mind. I’ve had other things to do. I’ve been distracted. And the dog ate my homework. I think ‘stuff’ just multiplies all on its own without your having to do anything, especially if you’ve lived in the same place for 25 years.
I did discover that I’m quite sentimental about objects, though, which actually surprised me somewhat. What possible good can come of saving an item that you enjoyed when you were twelve, especially when it’s so used and beaten up that it’s hardly recognizable? I admit I find it very difficult to part with something that was given to me by someone I love. I agonized for a while before parting with a stuffed elephant my husband gave me, even though it has been sitting on a chair gathering dust for years. Out it went, eventually, and lo and behold, I have my chair back!
A gift is one thing, but a handmade item is something else. A thing that someone created with her own hands has a kind of magic to it. There is an essence of the maker woven into the object itself, a bit of her soul imbued into it. I can’t possibly get rid of the little picture of vegetables that my sister embroidered for me, or the crocheted rainbow wall hanging that the other sister made. I even have a cigar box that youngest sister glued macaroni all over and spray-painted gold when she was in second grade. I have kept several dresses that my mother made for me in the 1960s and ’70s. I couldn’t get into them with a shoehorn. Or a building crane. My mother is gone, now, but her craft and skill reaches across the decades and speaks to me as if she were still here.
I have the same soul-magic feeling about any craft or work of art. A piece of the creator is in it, and ought to be respected and admired for that, if nothing else. Even food that is cooked from scratch out of the goodness of someone’s heart is better for your health and well-being.
Don update : he had his double root-canal last week. It went well, but he’s had more discomfort from the dental work than he had from all the operations, surgeries, and procedures of the past year. How ironic. He’s going back in tomorrow to be fitted with crowns.