When I was growing up, I had a lot of “stuff”. Toys as a child – Barbies and baby dolls particularly with all the accessories and clothes they required. As a teenager, I had knickknacks and collectibles, cassette tapes, books, and ceramic dogs, clowns (I know!), and dolls.
In the late 90’s, after Trever and I were married, I went through a Victorian and shabby chic phase. Roses, teacups, lace, and anything floral. At some point, after the girls came along, we became so overrun with their “stuff” that I decided to simplify. I pared down significantly. I still had room for books, candles and photos but had little use for trinkets and chachkies.
The exception was the holidays. I had always loved decorating for Christmas and in 1996, we started buying ornaments and decorations as well as getting some things for our families and we have added to our “Christmas stuff” for the past 24 years. I also began to collect decor for other seasons, particular spring and Easter and fall and Halloween. The things I add to our stash are never expensive. Sometimes I find new things, sometimes we find things in thrift store or antique shops (a habit I sorely miss). But my “ordinary days” decorations were still sparse, a situation that my late mother in law Judy was always trying to remedy.
Judy was a collector extraordinaire. Kewpies, collectible dolls large and small, head vases, and a variety of other things. She had multiple curio cabinets filled several layers deep with all of her treasures. And she knew exactly what she had and where it all was. She was always trying to get me – and later the girls – to take things home. Most times I politely declined. I didn’t need or have room for extra “stuff” But as the years went on, there were thing I liked and I would make room for. There are several pieces of wall decor and then lots of seasonal – especially autumn themed items – that fit my taste and style. But still, I maintained that I really didn’t NEED these things. They took up room, gathered dust, and made things cluttered.
When Judy passed away last summer, we took a few things to remember her and I proudly display these things in my home (within reason and fitting my aesthetic of course! Let’s not get crazy). Lately, I have started to realize that I am forming an attachment to my own “stuff”. Especially during the pandemic and spending so much time at home, there are things that I will glance at that make me smile, either for the association of a memory to a physical item or just for the simple beauty it adds to a room.
When I was getting out my “fall stuff” (particularly early this season per the girls’ request), I dropped and broke a favorite pumpkin of mine. It was a jack o lantern that I bought who knows where who knows how long ago but I loved it. I have a few votive holders like this that I will turn around and stuff the holes with flowers before and after Halloween and this particular one I just happened to really like. I was sad that I had broken it – being clumsy as usual – but Trever managed to glue it back together….I colored in the lines of breakage and glue with a black sharpie and it will continue to decorate my house for years to come.
So here’s to “stuff”. Do we need it? No, not necessarily. Is it the end of the world if something gets broken? Nah. Does it collect dust? Sure. But if our stuff reminds us of a loved one, brightens up a season or just brings us joy, then I say go for it. Stuff can be fragile, just like we are. But if broken, it can often be repaired. Will it be exactly as it was before? No, but we can mend it the best we can and continue on.
The rest of my “fall stuff” – except for Halloween – I’m not that crazy!
-Karri Temple Brackett
August 15, 2020