This time of year, w’re bombarded with a myriad of messages to shop, give and accumulate stuff. Maybe we love to give gifts. Maybe we feel pressured to give gifts.

Don’t get me wrong. I like stuff just as much as anybody. Open my hall closet and you’ll just scratch the surface of how much stuff I own!

Front and center – a vacuum and its serviceable black bag of attachments. Push aside the crowded hanging coats, if you can (do I really need that forest green ski vest I bought in the 70s?) and you’ll find a stack of “twelve china cups, eight folding chairs, six SCUBA fins, four feather dusters, three table leaves, two bicycle shoes and a motorcycle helmet.” And that’s not all!

On an early morning walk in my neighborhood, I noticed cars parked in most driveways, yet every house has a garage. Why are the cars outside? Probably because the garage is crammed with stuff.

Why do we accumulate? Is it because we are storing that turkey roasting pan we use once or twice a year? Those boxes of Christmas decorations that appear in December? I used to have twelve boxes of Christmas in my attic plus two toddler-sized nutcrackers, rooftop reindeer with lights and enough fake pine bough to wrap around my staircase banister. Yikes!

But I digress.

Some of this stuff has meaning, stories about why we keep it. Like my mom’s Shirley Temple doll on my closet shelf or her wedding dress in my cedar chest. Or the paper mache elf under our Christmas tree. This year, my mother-in-law’s angels are on our fireplace mantel. I remember those angels in her home at Christmas. Every time I see them, I think of her.  She died last July. I never asked her about the angels. I’m sorry I don’t know their story.

And it makes me wonder: do my daughters know why I treasure certain stuff? Have I taken the time to tell them the story of my stuff?

When I see the quilt my great-grandmother sewed draped over the rocking chair at my daughter’s home, I’m happy. It’s a story I’ve told.

Not everything we own or purchase will have a story or meaning. But some stuff becomes imbued with our memories. Yes, the folding chairs have borne witness to some significant gatherings and the SCUBA fins to some spectacular underwater adventures, but the fins and the chairs are generic and replaceable.

What gives some stuff special stories while others fade from memory? I couldn’t say. I know certain items hold meaning to some that escapes others. One daughter was very upset when I tossed two frayed and well-used cotton Christmas squares I bought at Target. For years, the squares were part of our Santa shelf. To me, they were tattered pieces of cloth, past their prime. To her, they were a special Christmas memory.

What’s the story of your stuff? I would encourage you to tell it.

And get rid of the unnecessary rest.