THE TIDY-UP PRINCIPLE
My father was a carpenter most of his life. He designed, built, and then sold our houses. When each one sold, he went through the process again. And again.
After each project was finished, I don't recall any excess lumber or scraps of roofing or siding hanging around. I've no clue what happened to them, but I know they went some place; they were never left to clutter up the area around our house.
My mother was a homemaker; even though she sometimes worked out in the marketplace, she was first and foremost a housewife. She cooked, cleaned, did laundry and ironed; her house was always uncluttered. (Let me say right here, I did not inherit this gene for a clean slate.)
Tidying up was natural to my parents, and to many of their generation. Even if they stored the remaining scraps of wood or leftover food from a meal, the goal was for the place to look good. (Plus, who knows when we might need a board just two feet long, or a little dish of peas to put in the chicken-vegetable soup.)
We've just come through one big holiday, with food looming large in the picture.
Soon we'll be facing another (or several other) holiday meal(s) to celebrate with family and friends during the Christmas season.
This post isn't about food. Or, at least, not much. Leftovers are . . . well, what remains after a meal. Some folks love 'em, some won't touch 'em. Freezers are ideal if you just can't face one more meal of chicken/turkey/ham/roast beef/tofu. And if you have no idea what to do about leftovers, go to your grocery store and scan the magazine section--at last count, I found 17 different periodicals devoted to food, all on the newsstand at the same time.
Okay, that's all about food.
I hear you asking, What other kinds of leftovers are there?
Just about anything you can name. Leavings when all the gifts have been opened (paper, string, ribbon, gift bags, cards, instructions, small parts of a Lego set . . .). A few minutes and a big trash bag will take care of the problem. (Just don't bag up the instructions or the Lego.)
Old items of clothing that are replaced by new shirts, sweaters, socks, jackets . . . . Your favorite charity will love you for bringing in your former beloved items.
Books, games, CDs, DVDs whose entertainment value has sunk upon Christmas morn when the newest, and latest, and the next big-big-big thing is in your stocking. Not to mention anything technological. Check around your community--some places ask for donations of specific items like these.
The saddest kind of leftovers are lost relationships--broken families--friendships that didn't weather a particularly bad storm.
The leftover part is the memory of what the relationship once was--that memory may never go away. And if the memories are good ones, maybe they shouldn't go away. But the regrets we often have--ah, there's the rub. Sometimes we just can't face these losses.
This year, I move that we all make an effort to adopt the Tidy-Up Principle: forgive ourselves, and others; examine our regrets and let them go, if we can; and turn our eyes and minds and hearts toward peace. Toward love for others, whoever they are. Toward being the best person each of us can be.
All in favor, say "aye."
May your days be merry and bright.