A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Leaving Toyland

Posted on: August 29, 2014

As my family knows, I love skimming the pages of organizing and storage magazines. And let me watch Hoarders and I’ll have to find some corner to organize or purge—even if it’s 10 p.m.

I joke that, like the Borg of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I bring order to chaos (while my English bulldog, the anti-Borg, brings chaos to order).

This summer, bringing order to the finished storage closet in the basement was on the menu. For the whole summer.

High time we got to work, I decided on Wednesday, with Labour Day just around the corner.

Why did summer nearly slip by with the job undone? The project meant working with my teenaged son to clear out a space littered with his old toys: marbles, Lego, Nerf darts, Pokémon cards, and so on. The partial cleanup before our community yard sale in the spring had only scratched the surface of the chaos.

My plan: to quickly box up toys that my son would like to save for his kids, set aside toys to be donated if gently used or tossed if broken, and recycle all those unneeded toy building manuals. My son’s plan: to go through each bin and reminisce about how much fun he’d had with each item. And sort the Lego into kits. And coax the pets to walk around in the closet. And so the fast cleanup spun into a two-hour job, with two shelves and a box left to tackle today.

But God can bless us through even a mundane, time-consuming job like a closet cleanup:

  • My son and I spent some quality time together, remembering the fun he’d had with his toys (and marvelling at the size of the cleanup).
  • I got to exercise my inner neat freak, which helps keep the moving bug away. (As a former service brat, I feel like it’s time to move every few years, and purging and reorganizing makes the house feel new again.)
  • We found a few items to donate and plenty to recycle, and we made room for items from a basement guest room that my son has been eyeing as a bedroom.
  • While recognizing the fact that my son has truly left childhood behind, I got to imagine my future grandchildren enjoying the keeper toys, the way my son and his cousins enjoyed our Fisher-Price and Lego toys.

As a new school year is almost upon us, and as we prepare for the next stage in our children’s lives—full-time kindergarten, middle school, high school, college or university and beyond—I pray that we would take a moment to look back and see the ways God has blessed our family, to make room for new growth, and to pray about what lies ahead.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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