Just as most folks are settling in for a long holiday break that includes spending time with family around a fireplace or a home-cooked meal, I'll be packing up my entire household. Yes, I am one of those crazy people who decided December would be the perfect time to move.
When my husband and I first decided to move this month, I dreaded the work that would entail. I envisioned endless hours of packing — while trying to make time for holiday shopping, wrapping presents and baking. While my workload for the month has increased; I also found unexpected benefits.
Going through every closet and cabinet in every room of my house has unearthed forgotten memories. I found a whole box of glitter, glue, paint and unfinished Christmas tree ornaments — a project my daughter took up when she was about 12. Just looking at the cans of glitter brought back memories of doing crafts and making special gifts. One Thanksgiving my daughter made bookmarks for every member of our family; each one had a unique design and saying, special to the recipient. Reliving those memories was worth the three hours it took to clean out that particular closet.
I don't have enough paper and ink to talk about all the memories that surfaced when I was packing up the many photo albums and picture frames around my house. But it did make me glad that not all my photos are digital only. Holding a photograph taken during a family camping trip or my daughter's first visit to Disneyland has special meaning that you just don't get from a computer screen.
Memories aren't the only benefits of a total house overhaul. As of Friday, I have donated three large bags of clothes to United Samaritan's Foundation and five boxes full of board games, unused pots and pans and a few holiday decorations to the Goodwill. While I try to make regular donations to these organizations, it felt good to give them really good second-hand items that I would normally try to sell at a yard sale in warmer weather.
I have also made drop-offs at Turlock's Cal-Green Recycling and the city dump. The electronic waste recycler took my broken television set, an old computer and a bag full of cell phones. (How exactly does one end up with a whole bag full of used cell phones? I'm still trying to figure that out.) Knowing my old electronics wouldn't just be taking up space at the dump was an awesome feeling. The trip to the dump was also cathartic because I felt 30 pounds lighter knowing that a truck full of broken furniture and torn up blankets were no longer taking up space in my house.
At the beginning of the packing process, I was afraid the Christmas decorations would be in the way. It turned out that the decorations have prevented my house from looking too bare and depressing. While everyday wall hangings and knick-knacks have been boxed up, the Christmas tree and Evergreen boughs give my house a cozy and welcoming feel.
The final benefit I have found during this process is a feeling of renewal. It's like my New Year's resolutions are starting early. I am forced to take stock of my material belongings and purge the unneeded. I will be starting 2013 with a house in order — now all I have to do is work on my internal goals. Why isn't there a dump or drop-off for unwanted pounds?
This column is the opinion of Kristina Hacker and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.