At some point during the Twelve Days, a Great Christmas Clean Up needs to be initiated at our house. Someone needs to vacuum the tree needles that have migrated all through the house. Boxes need to be flattened and recycled or put away to reuse next year; plastic bags need to be collected and other stuff that's just sitting around needs to move. The gifts that are still piled here and there need to be put away, although before that happens usually a closet or drawers or shelves or other such spaces need to be cleaned out first. The basket next to the tub needs to be relieved of its empty bath gel containers so that the new bath gel can go in, the too-small shirts need to come out of the dresser to make room for the new ones, that sort of thing. The decorations remain up until Epiphany, officially (and probably for a few more days realistically, due to time constraints), but there still needs to be a great Tidy Up before then.
Just about a year ago, I moved out of my office, and all my books and vestments and artwork and decor and papers and everything got deposited in my bedroom. Several boxes containing decorative items, cards and papers, candlesticks, etc. have remained untouched since then. I thought at first I might be moving into another office within a short time and there was no need to sort through things yet. Then recently I needed to open a box or two to look for something, and suddenly yesterday it seemed silly that these boxes of flower arrangements and candles and baskets were just sitting in my bedroom, staring at me every time I walked by. I had been ignoring them for many months but suddenly they were in the way. I realized that perhaps I had been putting off doing some emotional work by not unpacking them. So I spent time yesterday doing just that.
Somehow I had imagined this would be a monumental task. Emotionally, perhaps it was. I read through some old cards and letters and unwrapped some things that had been on my office shelves and felt all kinds of feelings. I threw some stuff away. But it actually only took a couple of hours, if that. Of course, many things remain packed, mostly books and wall-art, awaiting the blessed day when I move into an office again. It is inconvenient having one's books packed away but they are in labeled, very accessible boxes on one end of our rather large bedroom suite.
I think I got a monkey off my back by completing this exercise. My feelings were normal and understandable but not debilitating. Yes, I was sad again and frustrated again and angry/hurt again and relieved and gratified again. But I got through the work and felt good about getting through it. I even put some of the shelf-art out and my old desk pencil cup is now on my temporary home desk. None of those things seem to be staring at me, either. They're just things, and they are just there.
Of course, with a busy family, our home is never quite tidy (to my taste, anyway). Now there is a pile of phone books to be recycled and a basket of pine cones that need to go outside and a large pile of documents sits beside the shredder, waiting for someone (I wonder whom?) to feed them in one by one. But I feel relieved of a burden I didn't realize I was still shouldering. I feel a sense of peace. All will be well. And, by golly, I've got a place to put my pens.