Stuff is all around us, yet it never seems we have enough.
I remember in my youth, I had so much yet wanted more. Every Christmas, my eyes would widen at the thought of receiving the latest and greatest toy of the season. Christmas morning would produce a mountain of presents around the tree, and I would be grateful for the Barbie dolls, My Little Pony, Cabbage Patch Kids and She-Ra...you remember She-Ra, it's another 80's reboot on Netflix! ;)
As a young adult, I wanted the best clothes, purses and car. The material stuff seemed so important.
Fast forward twenty years, and I recognize it was all for naught.
Last December my father passed away. It was sudden and unexpected. Eight years before that my mother died after a long, drawn out battle with cancer. I could not imagine the grief of losing my mother getting worse...until the loss of my second parent.
After a whirlwind of activity initially, with funeral arrangements, family visits and estate planning, I now sit in silence when I visit my childhood home (which is still full of the stuff that we all felt we needed at the time and now can’t find a home for), grieving the loss of my parents and, in essence, the loss of my childhood. It’s true what they say, you never fully grow up until you lose both your parents.
But in all actuality, what I’ve discovered throughout the past few months when I visit my hometown, I am surrounded by a mountain of memories in the stuff. I'll admit that I do have a hard time letting go of the physical things. I don't feel ready to say good-bye. There's a certain finality to it that I don't want to face. However, the memories are what is special and hold a cherished place in my heart, not the stuff. As my husband reminds me, nothing is ever gone unless you stop remembering.
Admittedly my parents gave me everything I can ever remember wanting, but the greatest memories come from the piggyback rides, Sunday Mass, family birthday dinners and vacations. The time we spent together. In this week of Thanksgiving, I am grateful to realize the priority of people over things, most especially during the upcoming season of hopeful anticipation. If you're honest with yourself, what are you anticipating? The fleeting (yes, fleeting) time spent with family or the new (fill in the blank)!?
In these coming days preparing for Christmas, concentrate on making memories with your loved ones so your family and friends can cherish more than the stuff on their list. Don’t give into the secular temptation to buy the latest and greatest, because it will eventually decay. And as my father always said, “You can’t take it with you!," and, indeed, you cannot!
Matthew 6 reminds us “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
So as I dig through the attic and find my Barbie is missing her leg, My Little Ponies are brittle and the Cabbage Patch Kid has gone missing, it’s OK. I will let go of the stuff, because I had two parents that provided my sisters and me the greatest gift of all – their love – and that is all we are asked to give others.
I rest easy knowing Mom and Dad are reunited in Heaven enjoying their eternal reward, while the stuff we blindly cherished remains behind.
I pray as we each continue our journey here, that we are able to keep our eyes on the true treasures in life...the value of our loved ones...the good stuff!