For 2016, we’ve found a new routine: taking some time to evaluate what we need and what we want to hold onto.
The day before Christmas, after my son had gone to sleep, we pulled out the toy box from his room and the living room and began to sort.
Sorting out the toys unleashed a frenzy around our house: I tore into the closet to my office, pulling out boxes, and began to sort what should be kept, and what should go.
Banker boxes full of old bills, receipts, invoices all went into the discard pile. A box of forgotten clothes yielded warm clothes that would be welcome in the coming winter, while another found some of my childhood Star Wars action figures, which were promptly gifted to my son, who added them to his growing collection of troopers and dinosaurs.
Out went the toys that were designed for infants and toddlers: he had lost interest in most of these, and they were big and bulky, designed for tiny hands.
Out went the cheap toys that accumulated from fast food meals and other similar places. They were flimsy and in some cases, broken; designed to be played with for a session or two before being tossed aside.
Out went some of the stuffed animals that appeared in the last couple of years: happy bunnies and bears that bore hugs and holiday-specific messages embroidered on their fronts.
We held onto a couple of things: the rubber giraffe that he had gnawed on when he was teething; the stuffed dog that came with a book that he clutched when he was very little.
The objects we’ve accumulated over the past two years of his life compliment our memories. They’ll drop away over the course of his life: I only have a small handful of toys from my childhood that I can’t bear to part with. The ones that last will provide enduring memories reminding us of the times when he played with them, or when he held them up to show us.
As we sorted toys, we found new homes for them: a quick text to our daycare provider confirmed that they would be welcome in her home, and that some of the younger kids would be happy to play with them.
My wife went through the drawers of the desk in the kitchen, sorting out old crayons, papers and other items. I went through my bookshelves and piles of review copies for books that I wasn’t interested in reading again or for ones that I’d never pick up in the first place: those would be rehomed to the local library, or to friends who stopped by.
We went through our drawers and pulled out the clothes that didn’t fit or which we never wanted to wear again.
Culling the excess in our house was cathartic: I have room on my bookshelves, space in the closet, and extra capacity for new toys that our son will play with in 2016.