The Things We Hold Onto (Day 239)

Several weeks back,  I opened a cabinet and found a homemade game (pictured above) which one of our children made for one of us as a present for some now-forgotten occasion.

Like many parents, given the choice between a gift that our kids spent their hard-earned or gifted money on and a gift that they made with their own hands, we much prefer the second option. Even now that my kids are older, I’d rather receive the thoughtful gift over the expensive one.

Over dinner one night, I pulled out the game and asked my daughter what I should do with it. She told me to throw it out. We hadn’t played the game since the day she gave it to us and it was taking up space, gathering dust, etc. Neither my husband nor I found her solution acceptable. We should at least play it one more time, I said. My husband agreed and suggested we play it that evening, to which we all said, fine.

That night got hectic and we completely forgot to play the game. We didn’t play on subsequent nights either, but for a couple of weeks, the game remained on our dining room table, always within reach.

Finally, a few nights ago, I asked again about playing the game. I got an eyeroll from the daughter but my husband thought we should make time for it that night. Between homework and college applications and whatever she does on her phone, my daughter was not able to find time to play.

The question hovered around me: Do I hold onto this game until we play or do I throw it away as my daughter would like and since we never play it?

I swatted the question away and made the big decision to take the game off the dining room table and bring it into the family room, where I placed it on top of the cabinet in which I’d originally found it.

This afternoon we were straightening up before friends stopped by to watch the football game. My husband had gone through some papers in the family room, did some clean-up in there, leaving the room in great shape. The only thing out of place was the game, which I’d recently removed from the dining room table.

I picked it up and said to both husband and daughter, “Are we ever going to play this or should I toss it?” Daughter didn’t respond; she’d already let her opinion be known two or three times over the last few weeks. Husband did respond: “Don’t throw it out. We’re going to play it one day soon.”

Honestly, I was ready to get rid of the game but my husband didn’t want to let it go. I don’t know if it had to do with a memory of receiving the game as a gift or the fact that our child made it for one of us or the encroaching reality that next year at this time, there will not be any children living in our home. It doesn’t matter. If he needs to hold onto the game a little longer, I’m willing to indulge him.

I understand. Perhaps the game, for my husband, is much more than a piece of cardboard with colored paper swirls and numbers. Maybe it brings him back to moments he wishes not to forget.

In my personal “junk” drawer, one can find coupon books full of free kisses and back rubs and filling of the dishwasher. I never intended to use the coupons (back when the gift was given, the kids gave kisses and back rubs freely so there wasn’t much need for a coupon); I held onto them because they reminded me of how my kids were at that age. The drawings, the handwriting, the concept all trigger memories that I don’t ever want to lose.

As I write this, though, I wonder if my kids put expiration dates on any of those coupons. I’ll have to check when I go upstairs later tonight. The hugs and kisses these days are few and far between.

And it sure would be nice, for one night, not to have to nag my daughter to put the dishes in the dishwasher after dinner.



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2 thoughts on “The Things We Hold Onto (Day 239)

  1. The things our little kids make . . . are the hardest to toss. I am also guilty of holding onto clutter for this reason. Best advice I’ve heard is to take a photo of it, put it in an album.

    And maybe, on one lovely New England autumn night, you and hubby could have a bonfire, set the “game” on it and watch the sparks go up to memory land.

    1. My father-in-law suggested he take it to play with my niece and nephew, who are still in primary school. I think I’ll go that way so my husband can go visit the game as he needs.

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