A Labor of Love
Happy Labor Day! According to the United States Department of Labor website, Labor Day, “constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” While researching this simple fact, I found it very interesting that Americans have celebrated this holiday for 130 years.
This Labor Day, I will be with my mom, cleaning out and taking inventory of the contents of her basement. Having already begun this process, I think my parents have been collecting junk for 130 years (just kidding, Mom)! I’m amazed at how much stuff they managed to accumulate over the years. Every nook and cranny of their basement is filled with…well, you name it, and I’d bet you my parents have whatever comes to mind.
On the one hand, pulling old items from the back of shelves provided moments of levity. “I remember those bowls we used while growing up,” my sister squealed after finding our 1970’s era daily kitchenware. Just the sight of the bowls brought back memories of the four of us around our kitchen table. On the other hand, staring at bowls that haven’t been used or thought about in decades begs the question, “Why do we still have these?” Most times, the answer is, “I have no idea.”
We’ve all been there. We’ve bought some item, maybe we paid a lot of money for that item, and then later on decided to upgrade or change the item. It seemed a little foolish to throw the original item out. It’s not broken. It still has value. I might want to use it again someday.
So we box the item up in a container filled with other items we think we might want to use again someday and store them in the basement or attic or storage building or wherever your family chooses to keep things. Somehow, years go by and we can’t even get to the items in question because they’ve been shoved back into the recesses of our basements, attics, or storage buildings. At some point, the amount of boxes and storage containers begins to overwhelm us. We are then forced us to finally open the boxes and begin the arduous process of deciding if we need to keep the items or, in most cases, give them away—something we should have done years ago. Many times we were too emotionally involved with the item to take that final and essential step.
My parents were raised by parents who lost everything in the Great Depression. Their parents never threw anything away and they taught their children not to throw anything away. At some point this nasty cycle has to stop. I’m going to try my very hardest to break the cycle of keeping what I think I might need someday. Is this going to be difficult? Yep. It’s much easier to box things up and store them in the basement as opposed to taking the boxes to a local charity where people actually will use them. Will I keep trying to break the cycle? Yes, because as interesting as it is to discover old relics in boxes, having to deal with the boxes has been a burden I wish my mother didn’t have to endure.
So Happy Labor Day, everybody! If you end up spending the day in a labor of love like me, I hope you’ll share!