The business of tidying up after the holidays is now most surely done. I sat one afternoon and went through all of our decorations, making 2 big bags for the thrift store. The simplicity of our tree this year was all the incentive I needed to whittle down and sort through. We're now left with the truly special things and with much more room next year to create, gather, garland, and swag from the natural world.
Over the years, I've become quite ruthless when it comes to our "things". It's so very easy to accumulate, collect, and pack away (and forget!). I'm of the strong belief that any item in one's home must hold some sentiment or beauty, otherwise it's just clutter (beyond, of course, the necessary staples like pens, tape, dog treats, and so on). When we moved to the land we thrifted car loads of "stuff" and I've kept the momentum going. To walk into our house, well, perhaps you wouldn't believe it, but I know what is in every corner, every box, and there is nothing gathering dust. It's a habit that continues over time as we appreciate and then let go of things, and as we grow and our interests and inspirations change.
Still, there are those things that we no longer use that are so, so special we must hold on to them. A bin of Coco's teeny, tiny preemie clothes. I can't believe it now to hold them- how little she was! Sean and I share a box of childhood treasures too important to clear away- special books, scrapbooks, trophies, some coins, my first and favourite toy (a dog puppet). I have my wedding veil tucked safely away and I am the keeper of countless family photos and slides from when I was little. It's important to have these items...memories you can hold in your hand and feel, especially in our digital age when so much is stored on hard-drives and on the web. I keep this in mind for Coco. I know the pleasure of smells that take you right back, and the ability to hold a precious item from the past. It's an important and beautiful balance of keeping our home fresh and clear for the future ahead, while holding a space for the experiences and things that have shaped who we are.
With this in mind, I've been saving our Advent calendars. Each year, I buy an Advent calendar from the Waldorf Christmas market, or online. These calendars are usually from Germany and preferrably ones dusted in magic. I love the old fashioned paper calendars. There are so many lovely Advent calendar ideas out there that folks have created for their children with pockets and special items for each day. I'm inspired by all of them, but for me I step back at the thought of more little things about the house...more stuff in an already full time of year. The paper calendars are just as exciting and even as a mama I look forward to seeing what is behind each door.
And so it is since the Christmas of 2008, that magical Christmas when I found out I was pregnant with Coco. The Christmas that it snowed right across the country...our first Canadian wide white Christmas since the year I was born. The Christmas that winter settled into my heart as the most special season of the year. It was this Christmas that I bought my first paper Advent calendar in years and recorded the date on the back. Since then, I've saved them all with their dates. I'd love to carry this tradition until Coco is 12, so that she can look back and hold the Christmas memories of childhood in her hands.
Along with this, I also have Coco's partially completed baby book, a project I intend to complete (to date anyhow) this winter. In a separate book I write down the funny things that Coco says. Most recently, while playing house, she introduced me to her "husband", Merino Wool Sock. It was unbelievably adorable. I also have a journal ready to record poems and verses that I come across that remind me of Coco or that I want her to read. If I can fill it, it would make a beautiful 16th birthday gift.
I'd love to know- what are your special memory keeping traditions? And, what are the ways that you balance the delicate line between clutter and importance?