I just returned from Santa Fe where I traditionally spend the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving at Silver Sun Gallery on Canyon Road taking orders for my belts and meeting with customers. This trip was different in that it was also my last. As of Christmas I am closing my custom belt business in preparation for our full-time adventure on the road.
Let me start off by saying how grateful I am for Cheryl and Deanna, the owners, who have graciously accommodated my business in their beautiful store for the last 15 years, and for Donna, Robin, Sandra, Lynn and Peggy, who have represented me to the customers so that I could continue to do business in Santa Fe from my remote location 180 miles away. And for Donna and her husband John, who have graciously hosted me in their home during my twice-yearly visits to the store. I treasure our friendships. Thank you, all.
Donna is a collector of all sorts of interesting things. Her home is full of lots of art, pottery and glass, and other beautiful and intriguing items. What got me thinking about this, though, is her collection of nut crackers, which is mostly housed in the guest room in which I sleep. She has been collecting them since she was a child and they have come to her from all over the world. Each figure has a story, not only about the nut cracker itself but about the person who gave it to her and the circumstances of the gift.
Donna has recently opened and unpacked a storage locker which she had been saving for 20 years. She is trying to find places for lots of things that belonged to her parents and grandparents, ways to integrate these new old treasures into her already crowded home. She shared with me some of the stories of some of these things and I began to see a new take on my purging activity over the last eighteen months. No regrets, mind you, just a different view.
When we were having our estate sale a couple of weeks ago, and finding new homes for so many of our treasures as well as day-to-day living things that have no place in the RV, I found myself sharing stories with the perfect strangers who were perusing our offerings. In fact, I told not just a few people that if they were going to take my art they had to hear the stories behind and about those pieces.
I think what may be important about all of this is not the nut crackers, or the storage locker or the art in my living room, but the stories. The art and the nut crackers and the family memorabilia are all still stuff, but their importance lies in the stories we should tell about them, about each treasure and how it came to be in our possession, the friends and family who are connected to it, the memories it invokes, and the traditions it may have helped fulfill, which are all in danger of disappearing along with the things we are getting rid of.
I don’t have any regrets about selling my mother’s porcelain birds, or my Fiesta Wear, or giving away the rugs and pots and art. As I have said before, Shannon and I don’t have any children and are not concerned about passing on a load of stuff to offspring. But I am glad that I have been writing about them, recording my emotions through this journey, telling some of the stories that are invoked by the things that are passing through our hands. And I know that I have no control over what happens to our stuff or our house or our stories when we are gone from here, but I can only hope that the things and the house and the stories get to where they need to be to enrich somebody else’s life.