Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Travels in the Basement

 I am suffering from a weird kind of jet lag.
Haven't had to buy a ticket or renew my passport or update my inoculations.
I have merely taken twelve steps downward into the remains of my basement in my ninety one year old home, unwrapping layers of memories in boxes and boxes of cards and letters and remembrances.
A travel of time within the written word, taking me to places I haven't visited in twenty, thirty, forty years.
 This journey started with the idea that our formerly very useful basement, needed some updating and remodeling after the flooding of the same, now nigh onto four winters ago.  Time, energy and budgetary consideration kept us from working on it before now, but now with our family of four children insisting on multiplying, we know that we need more room to park them when their cherished visits occur. (And you will get to see the progress as we transmogrify our space!)  But before the glory of the change, comes the preparation for the beginning.

 Which for me means sorting through the boxes of communication, 20th century style.  I have spent hours pouring over all my wedding cards and reading good wishes from high school friends, relatives long gone and friends of co workers and neighbors who heard about our marriage, new child, new home etc.....

I have kept every missive sent to my address for the entirety of my thirty eight year marriage.

I realized a few blessed years ago, that I would be running out of places to store my small boxes of cards etc and began the horrid task of (shudder) disposing of cards a few weeks after I receive them.  What a growth ring that was for me....The pitching of something that someone selected for me, signed or left a note in, addressed, bought a stamp, mailed it with the intention of bringing me joy, is something that I just cannot do easily.  Obviously.

I am reaching that realistic age that if I do not grow up and take care of my obsession about this curious collection, I will be cursing my poor children into figuring out what to do with the obviously cherished collection of communication.  Last night, in the midst of my second hour of reading and sorting, I began to develop some courage and got a bit more free with my discards.  Then I came across all the letters my sister wrote to me in 1967, when my brother in law was stationed in Highland Falls New York, before he was off to Vietnam.  Snippets of her day to day newly wed life on an Army Base at a very volatile time in history, while useless to most, will be most interesting to my children some day.  Then I started retreating to keeping for awhile.  Got brave again and found an unmailed letter to an old friend that happened to mentioned that I had gotten off school on October 8, 1964 to see President Johnson's motorcade while he was in Springfield Illinois.  Again, my resolve weakened......

Wedding cards from the 70's were extraordinarily ugly, yet I kept them.  I loved reading them, wishing Hubby and I a long marriage and much happiness.  I feel a desire to write the people that wished this special benediction upon us, assuring them that their blessings years ago have come true. 
I open each congratulations for our first born, wishing upon her, a good and true life, and I nod to myself, knowing these thirty two years with Eldest/Admin, have indeed been good and true.
I get that little catch in my throat with all the labored over Mother's Day cards from my teeny children .
I grin when I see greetings from friends of my children to Hubby and I and know that these little girls are all wonderful grown ups that would get a hoot from seeing what I have kept from their childish scrawls, so precious to me.

So, what to do with it all?  Youngest Son, caretaker of my journals and holder of the family history, followed me downstairs and his advice was of no help.  He says, 'mom, how much space can cards take?  Keep them!  Go through your discards again and make sure your not throwing anything important away!'  Have I mentioned that YS is spitting image of his mother's personality, humor and quirkiness?  Yeah.  No help at all.  Where is Eldest/Admin and her purging ways when I need her??

I tried to come up with a vintage need for these historical documents, but nothin'.....

What, Dear Readers, would you do with this avalanche of memories and  grand examples of Hallmark etc in all it's 70's, 80's glory??

After hour upon hour on my reminiscing trip, I am overwhelmed and feeling a bit discombobulated......
Let me know your thoughts about my dilemma.  The contractor comes tomorrow and I believe he will want to start soon...
Leave a comment,


  1. This is absolutely wonderful, and I must tell you that I've been convicted that it's taken me so long to get your card out, so... I am sorry, but one will be coming from me! Thanks for sharing this; it's great to think on all you've spoken here...

  2. If you figure it out let me know...

  3. if only it was material and could be turned into a lovely quilt...
    idea, large frames with only the outside covers exposed of the cards(the reeaaally special and pretty ones that have special writings in the inside) exposed to use for wall decor on the walls in the basement (or anywhere)...??? just an idea...
    time to accept throwing some away :(

  4. Ooooooh!! hmmmmmmmmm......good one...

  5. My sister took all the old wedding shower and wedding cards from our grandmother's wedding in the 50's and cut out the pretty pictures and mod podged them onto stacked hat boxes in the shape of a wedding cake. Then she cut a hole in the top and used it for wedding cards at her own wedding. It was/is beautiful.

  6. So there ARE other people that keep wedding cards longer than me!! Whew! Thank Goodness!


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