October 16, 2016

The Purge

Today was the day of The Purge.

The Purge is a day of yelling, guilt, cleansing, shame, sneezing (all the dust make me sneeze), happiness, head-shaking, judging, reflecting, and ultimately of rebirth.

When you are lucky enough to live a life of unbridled privilege, your kids end up having too much stuff. The desire to make sure that they are happy and have more than you ever had as a child will result in lots of stuff.

Too much stuff: Clothes, shoes, dress up clothes, legos, toys, knick-knacks, crayons, markers, notebooks, dolls, doll’s clothes, action figures, stuffed animals, art supplies, craft projects, science equipment, children’s tool sets, jewelry, jewelry boxes, beads, earrings, coloring books and more. And more. And just more stuff.

All of it jammed into drawers and under beds and closets and storage containers.

You have been places, met people with so little. No toys. No outfits. No shoes. Just crusty feet, tired hands and an insatiable hunger.

So filling the bags with garbage and donations fills you with a sense of dread and guilt. How did you kids get so much stuff? Much of it comes from random birthday gifts and parties, but you too have bought this stuff for them, and now here you are yelling at them for not playing with it enough. For not appreciating it enough. As if a seven year old can understand why nine My Little Ponies might be too many.

In the past, I would always commit The Purge at night when the kids were asleep. I would go through their stuff and find the things that they never touched, the stuff that was buried in the drawers and haul it out to donate or throw away, but this year, we felt it was time for the kids to go through the process themselves. To let go. Say goodbye. Weed-out.

“Does this give you joy, Skyelar?” Kaia asks Skye.

Where did you hear that?


It took all morning with coffee and toilet paper, my nose was dripping like a hose, but we purged both kids’ rooms. Countless bags of trash and a car full of bags for The Salvation Army were expelled from our house. In between the lectures and the shaming, we tried to talk about the oppression of things, but there was a lot of attachment to that one random piece of plastic junk that so and so had given or a birthday four years ago.

After it was all said and done, their rooms looked beautiful. Sleek and efficient. Filled only with markers that work and have caps. Drawers that are bare enough to reveal toys that they can actually play with. With every piece pf garbage that went out, we discussed impulse buying and the need to have toys that are junk and bad for the environment. (I'm looking at you Shopkins!) We cherished the toys that we have had for years, that were useful and well made and we said goodbye. Hoping that another child might be able to find joy in that awesome puppet or riding horse.

After The Purge we were all spent. We had planned to go to The Projector to watch the original Ghostbusters, but we decided to crawl into bed at 4:30, turn down the blinds, sip some Prosecco and watch it at home instead. When it was done, we took a break and got some take out Indian and watched Ghostbusters II. It was that kind of night.

The kids are asleep now and the house feels quiet and clean and lighter.

The Purge was a literal act today and a necessary one, but it has got me thinking about what else I might need to purge periodically to achieve the same feeling in other aspects of my life.

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