Coming out of a turkey coma is disorienting. My husband and I hosted Thanksgiving this year, and for the first time, we managed the entire menu ourselves. I’m pleased to say we pulled it off.

We had good food, good wine and good company. Really, what more could you ask for?

After our guests left, we cleaned up the table, finished packing the leftovers, loaded the dishwasher and promptly passed out on the couch. It was time for a well-deserved nap.

Waking up was not easy. I sat up and scurried to my side of the couch and turned on my laptop. This column wasn’t going to write itself, after all. My computer came to life, but I still felt fuzzy.

Thanksgiving is always a good time to reflect, but I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting this year. What a year it’s been. So much has happened. It’s a lot of food for thought.

If ever there was a year to be thankful for what I have, this is it. I have an amazing family and treasured friends. I have my health, even if I could stand to lose a few pounds. I have job that challenges and inspires me. And I have a home filled with love and laughter.

Everything else is just stuff, and I’m starting to realize I have a lot of stuff.

I have trouble letting go. I tend to get lost in the “what ifs”. What if I throw something away by mistake? What if I get rid of something only to end up buying a replacement later? What if I give away all this stuff and then have no stuff to fill my home?

I have a lot of what professional organizers call sentimental clutter. I have things that I’ve dubbed valuable — too precious to part with — but if that’s true, why do I keep these things tucked away in trunks and shoe boxes? If these things are truly special to me, why am I not displaying them out in the open where I can see them and love them and share them?

When Chuck and I moved into our house two years ago, I started to go through my things. I began curating my possessions and figuring about what to keep and what to donate or trash. To help me focus, I wrote a question on a spare notebook page. I wrote: “Would you save this if there was a fire?”

I thought that question would help me determine what was actually important to me and help me sort through all my stuff, but I didn’t feel the gravity of those words until I had friends and family making those choices in real life rather than hypothetically. Now that the dust has settled, I have to look at all the stuff around me and reevaluate what is truly significant.

Chuck and I have a junk room. The purple room, as we call it, could someday be a nursery if we decided to expand our family, but for now, it is a dungeon for stuff that doesn’t have a place in our home but doesn’t have a place elsewhere either. These items remain stacked in a domestic purgatory. Plus, we have a storage unit across town. If we aren’t using these things, why do we have them? Surely someone else could be benefiting from our excess.

Will your family take a vacation together this summer?

You voted:

Christmas is coming. It’s the season of giving. We exchange gifts with those we love to remind them that they are special to us. I love giving gifts, but I think I will give differently this year.

This year, I’m not giving stuff. I’m giving love. Maybe it won’t be something that will take up space on a shelf, but hopefully it will take up space in your heart.

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Simple & Sassy runs every other Sunday. She can be reached at shartley@napanews.com.


Online Editor/Calendar Editor

Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Her column Simple & Sassy runs on alternating Sundays.