Words for Wednesday: when not purging sparks joy

blogIMG_1557It was all the rage a while ago – decluttering your home, adapting to a minimalist kind of lifestyle. In other words, rid your home and your life of items you no longer use or in the words of the queen of tidying up, Marie Kondo, get rid of anything that doesn’t “spark joy.”

Well, of course when we accumulate too much stuff, we need to evaluate, sort, donate, or pitch some of those items. But totally clearing your home of items that you haven’t used for awhile? That just doesn’t click with me.

Maybe it’s because my parents grew up in the Depression era and so they utilized items that others would pitch into the garbage bin. They also saved things because you just “might need them someday.” And well…the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I’ve been known to save things because I can see where they might be useful later. I do scrutinize something to ascertain if it can be reused or repurposed. And I do think twice about letting go of some things because if I do, I just might need them later.

And you know what? Just last weekend, I was glad I do so. Here’s my case in point.

Like so many across of our country, we’ve been sheltering in place in our home due to the covid-19 business for the last…oh, I don’t know because I’ve lost track of time…several weeks that seem like “forever” in the words of my five-year-old grandchild.

Since Papa and I are in the “vulnerable” group (over 60), we literally have been staying home, getting groceries delivered to our front door step, and generally making do with the situation. But finally, our state governor has placed our particular county in the next phase  — we’re no longer in the red – of his reopening plan.

We can venture out into public once again and some businesses may reopen but we must don a face mask.  This is a bit of a problem for someone like me who is a trifle claustrophobic.  But along with everyone else in the world, I viewed videos with instructions on how to make masks – sewn and non-sewn.

Disposable masks are a hot commodity and could only be found online for a chunk of change. So I opted for the non-sewn ones and tried to “make” masks from bandanas, (which for some reason we have many) and hair ties. They didn’t work so great as we constantly ended up touching them to make sure they stayed on our faces. That defeated the purpose and honestly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe in them.

Scrap that idea. Finally, I bit the bullet and decided to sew our own, especially since we have a child in our midst who is too small to wear adult-sized face masks.  

Now, I confess I am not much of a seamstress. I wouldn’t claim to be one although I do know how to sew. I learned some from my mother, some in Home Economics classes in junior high, and even more from sewing classes given many years ago by my oldest sister, who is a seamstress extraordinaire. (She even fashioned her daughters’ wedding gowns.)

I own an old, simple sewing machine and can do basic sewing but my skills aren’t the greatest, although I did sew a number of Halloween costumes for my children when they were small.

But here’s the thing. My portable sewing machine is stored away in a box, sometimes for years.  My sewing chest full of thread and needles only comes out of the laundry room cupboard when I need to sew a button or make a simple repair on an article of clothing.

So I dragged out my neglected sewing machine and set it up on the kitchen table, rooted in the laundry room cupboard for some material remnants from a few things I fashioned many years ago, found the right colors of thread and – surprise! – a package of thin elastic and white shoestrings that were never opened in my sewing chest.

It took me a good part of the day, but I managed to sew three cloth masks – one for Papa, one for Nana, and one for Little One. I used the left-over material for the outside of the masks, some 100% cotton cloth for the linings, matching colored thread I already had, elastic for ear loops for the adult masks, and shoestrings for Little One’s mask which will be tied on instead of bending her ears down.

All of it didn’t cost me one cent! And all those items, including my sewing machine, have been stashed away in my cabinet for years, unused. Had I purged that cupboard of its contents because I wasn’t using those items, I wouldn’t have possessed the materials I needed for this “rainy day.”

And you know what, THAT sparked joy for me.

“It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.” ~ Aesop

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