An Unexpected Message

Today is a Professional Development Day in our school district, so that means no school for the boys, and I had sooo been looking forward to sleeping in just a little, not too much because it is garbage day, and they seem to hit our street first, but a few extra minutes were sounding like bliss last night when I went to bed.  I woke up at my normal time after a horrible night’s sleep (or lack of sleep) and I had a raging headache.  Partly from the lack of sleep, and partly from my neck which seems to be doing weird things lately.  In a desperate attempt to keep the headache from moving into migraine territory, I shuffled down the stairs, put on a pot of coffee and downed a couple Advil.

Normally, a morning with no-one else up is a joy.  I can get a lot of work done when no-one is up to interrupt me.  With the headache raging, I opted to skip firing up the computer and torturing my eyes with the glare of the screen and decided to curl up with a no brainer book.  I’m a firm believer that no brainer books are a great thing to have on hand.  They can offer entertainment without the need to really think.  When my mind is a busy place, a no brainer book can help soothe.  Since I don’t really have to think while reading, it allows the other thoughts to sort of mellow and somehow they sort themselves out a bit while I lose myself in a book that requires no deep thinking.

I recently purchased a book on my Kobo (see here for my thoughts on my Kobo)

 “A Winter Wonderland” by Fern Michaels, Holly Chamberlin, Leslie Meier, and Kristina McMorris.

It contains four novellas about the holidays.  When I bought it, I was planning on saving it for December when I know I’ll be busy and be craving something easy to read.  But I opened it up this morning, and soon found myself lost in one of the stories.  The last story in the book, “The Christmas Collector”: by Kristina McMorris was a cute little story about Jenna Matthews, an estate liquidator, who doesn’t realize she’s at a crossroads in life.  She’s used to clearing out other peoples stuff, sorting, purging, and donating what isn’t worth anything, and selling what is.  She prides herself on having no clutter in her life, and doesn’t understand why people hold on to items that seem to have no intrinsic value.  It is alluded to that her mother is a recovering hoarder, which sort of explains Jenna’s attitude and approach to her job.  As the story goes on, it sees Jenna working on an elderly woman’s estate, and she finds a box of pictures from WWII which spurs a side story I wished the author would have followed up more on.  I found that part rather appropriate for this time of year, with Remembrance Day this weekend.  And though it was a side line to the main story, the information I gleaned from that, has given me an even deeper respect for the women who served in our military so long ago, who weren’t always recognised for the heroines they are.  Who weren’t always given the respect and recognition they should have had.

What really got me though was Jenna’s personal journey to discovering the power and the value of a memory.  And the understanding that sometimes, those pieces of junk are priceless to their owners, not because of their monetary value, but because of their history and the memories attached to them.

I was looking for a quick read that wouldn’t require any deep thinking.  Something that didn’t have an intricate plot line to follow.  I got my wish on the plot line, but the meaning in the story left me really thinking. I am a huge believer in clearing out the clutter, and for a long time now I’ve approached dealing with sentimental items with the belief that the memories will always be there, even when the item is gone, but I don’t often think about the tangible feeling of recapturing a memory by looking at photos, or by holding an object.  The items in our homes, the items we hold dear, tell our story.  They hold memories, that maybe we won’t recall until we see that item, or hold it in our hands.  What about when we grow old and our memories become fuzzy with age?  Will holding that object, looking at the old photo, faded with time, help us recapture something we’ve forgotten?

On the other hand, where do we draw the line?  How do we choose what to keep and what to let go?  How do we know what memories will be important?  I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but I think that the next time I start sorting stuff, I’ll be thinking them in the back of my mind.  My easy read was an easy read, but it left me really thinking about the intentions behind the clearing clutter.  It gave me a new perspective to view things through.  And it gave me food for thought for when it comes to adding to the items in our home, and most especially when it comes to the upcoming holiday season.  I think this year, the gifts I give will be chosen with much more care and intention.

If you’re looking for an easy, short read, this book is a good one.  There is more to the story than I’ve shared here, I didn’t want to spoil the whole thing.  Who knows, maybe you’ll take something different away from it.

How do you decide what sentimental items to keep?  Do you keep them packed away and waiting for a rainy day of rediscovery?  Do you have a collection of items you couldn’t imagine getting rid?  A precious piece that makes you smile when you see it?

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