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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Peggy McCracken

Squarely Pegged

By Peggy McCracken

Year-end cleanout
yields big treasures

My favorite Christmas gift is a stuffed duck. You heard right. A stuffed duck, two pieces of jewelry with a cross, a button light with a dead battery and a Disney Resort pin labeled “Pop Star of the Day” came from 7-year-old Cieara. She had obviously gathered the treasures from her own possessions, stuffed them into a gift sack and printed my name and hers on the side. That is a woman after my own heart. Why go out and buy a bunch of stuff for people when you have perfectly good stuff in your own room.

Cieara knows I like crosses, and she picked out a bracelet and necklace she thought I would like. She pointed out that the button light had a dead battery, but I assured her I had one on hand. And I love battery-powered lights that can be used in emergencies anywhere you happen to be.

The pin has my favorite red color, and I pinned it on my red shirt right away. The duck, now, I am not so sure of. For the moment he is sitting on my piano as a reminder of her.

Sister Jasmine said the reason for her generosity was that she had been forced to clean up her room, and that was part of the de-cluttering. Whatever motivated her, I appreciated the sweet thought behind the gifts.

Cieara and I slipped off Christmas Eve to try our luck at cards, while the adults were playing a new electronic guessing game. She has a quick mind and a good memory, so she beat me most of the time at “Matching Mammals,” “Skip-Bo” and “Uno.” She did well on “Quiddler” too, with a little help from me in creating words with the alphabet cards. I showed her how to add up her score, and after a few hands, she did it on her own, using all 10 fingers. She likes to win, but unlike some small children, doesn’t throw a fit when she loses. She is a good companion.

Her gift from the heart inspired me to share some books I had read and enjoyed. Not only did I feel good about passing along good information and inspiration, I continued the de-cluttering that has been my aim for several years.

It’s hard to part with good stuff, but I had already cleared my shelves of 40 volumes of classics, a set of encyclopedia, more Reader’s Digest Condensed Books than I could count, and books on various topics that I have hoarded over the years.

All my videotapes went to a church garage sale; clothes and a printer to the Christian Home; three old, raggedy quilts my mother made me to the dumpster (that hurt!); and holey, stretched-out sweats to the rag bag.

There’s lots more to be discarded. A small TV that David insisted on replacing with a wide-screen digital model; an electronic typewriter, an all-purpose machine for printing, copying and stuff; a whole shelf of college books that I somehow can’t yet part with; surplus kitchen appliances replaced by newer models. There seems to be no end to stuff, and it keeps coming in the front door faster than I can shove it out the back.

It’s not just stuff that clutters our lives, and I am cutting back in other areas, too. When the phone rings and I hear some telemarketing chatter, I hang up and walk away. I say “no” when asked to do something I don’t want to do. I schedule my days to do just those few tasks I am obligated to do, or need for exercise, and take naps in between. When bedtime comes, I go to bed and usually get to sleep right away because I am not tense about some situation I didn’t have time to take care of.

It helps to keep the mind de-cluttered, as well. I don’t brood too much about mistakes I made in the past – though they do come to mind, and I ask myself how I could have been so stupid. (I’m still that stupid, so it shouldn’t surprise me.)

Now that we’ve come to the end of 2008, I am looking back to see what I did right, what I did wrong, and how I can do better in 2009. De-cluttering is a start, but I need a goal to motivate me. Maybe I can share that goal with you next week. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but goal-setting is OK.

“Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith.” Proverbs 25:4, NIV

EDITOR’S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is Enterprise columnist and feature writer. Contact her at HYPERLINK ""

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