The day after Thanksgiving was quiet, rainy and cool. The kids were doing their own things, so Susan and I decided to go through filing cabinets and see what we could get rid of.
We dug out bank statements, maintenance records for cars we no longer own, outdated insurance policies, old Daytimers (saving occasional pages), twenty year-old paystubs, lecture notes from college courses that we haven’t looked at for 30 years, old travel brochures, purchase and sale documents from our first house, newspaper and magazine articles on long-dead topics, receipts, prospecti, letters from old girlfriends, certificates of recognition, and yada yada yada.
Most of this crap could be recycled, and we filled our giant recycling tote so full I could barely roll it out to the street. We completely emptied one four-drawer filing cabinet and made more room in the remaining two. The cool, damp weather was perfect for burning stacks of old financial records in the woodstove. Though I felt like a fireman shoveling coal into a locomotive’s boiler, it was great getting rid of unnecessary stuff and heating the house for two days.
When I get on an organizing roll, it can be hard to stop. Since the juices were flowing, I undertook the transformation of the downstairs [w]rec[k] room into a space for the kids (15 and 13) to use with their friends. Moved remaining filing cabinets from middle of wall to far end. Removed two six-foot tables. Cleared out more boxes of paperwork. Admitted that I’m never going to reupholster the orange naugahyde chair that’s ripped open and losing half of its stuffing. Gave away games and stuffed animals the kids no longer want. Brought in a basket chair scavenged from some friends. Moved in the blue hide-a-bed that happens to match the basket chair. Moved the writing desk to a more useful spot. Brought down the TV and got the Wii out of our bedroom. Relocated some lamps so the room is more softly lit. Vacuumed up dead spiders.
We didn’t have to buy a thing to make the rec room so much more comfortable and inviting. It’s a great place to hang out. Zack told us that now he could invite his friends over more often. We’re less likely to be banned from the living room or have our bedroom taken over when kids watch a movie or play Wii. Clearing out paperwork and better organizing our living space made us all feel just a little more grown up. I’d have to call that a win-win.