Tag Archives: emptiness

Cleaning House for the Holidays

savebunpostIf you have no heart for the holidays, give yourself a gift of light and space. Gentle glowing light. And nothingness, emptiness, silence. Peace.

Last year, instead of a Christmas tree to brighten the house, I bought one of those digital frames, loaded it full of my favorite photos, and put in on the counter where the lit tree used to stand. Every five seconds the frame flashed a different picture. Colors splashed all over, lighting the place up like Christmas. It worked so well in lifting my spirits that I kept it plugged in all year.

This year, to brighten the upcoming holidays, I’ve been clearing the house out top-to-bottom. I wanted home to look like a scene out of Martha Stewart Living, in holiday-less May. Only more subdued, like a meticulously appointed hotel. I wasn’t going to survive the season with my house full of stuff crushing me. It was time for a major purging.

If you were on a desert island and could only have ten things, or if you were getting buried beneath all your belongings and could keep only a fraction of them in order to breathe – what would you hold onto?

In the depths of sixteen years’ accumulation, I came across countless photos and precious possessions from my daughter who died. Soccer balls. Stuffed animals. Costumes I’d sewn for the kids and myself. My old tent and sleeping bag. Maps of France. Assorted remnants of my past lives. I found fifteen electronic candles and ten forgotten flameless LED tea lights.

The hardest things to let go were the stuffed animals. The squishy-soft polyester puppies and bunnies had glinting plastic eyes that followed me around the house as my helper and I gathered a step-van’s worth of papers, defunct electronics, kitchenware, old luggage, toys, teaching materials, art supplies, and house parts. “Someone else is gonna love this,” I kept reminding myself, as I tossed things in bags.

I saved the battery-operated candles, the photos, a cape of pink polka-dot tutu fabric, a bunny garden ornament and six stuffed rabbits. The tea lights. And when the two days of purging were over, when the house was silent and still, I sighed with relief at the almost bare shelves. Something in my soul sang out and danced in the empty spaces as I filled them with electronic light.


What do you do when you’ve had your fill of holidays? What do you hold onto in this season? What do you toss?