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The Art of Unpacking Ghosts

In the first box, I unearthed the big cobalt blue sundae cups. My daughter Paige, who’s 9, saw them and remarked how pretty they were. She wondered where they came from (the past, my sweet girl, a relic from the past).

In the second box, two fondue bowls and their matching forks appeared. They were purchased years ago for my first food magazine assignment — a spread of fondues that I was working on when a hurricane hit. I can’t recall which hurricane it was, but I remember heating the fondues just before we lost power for days so that we could eat them rather than let them go bad.

On and on it went. We were unpacking ghosts of the past into our new home.

These boxes have sat in my basement for nearly three and a half years. They were hidden and tucked away. Not forgotten, per se, but set aside — physically and mentally. Those things, not essential to everyday life, became part of the past as I built a life here in Maine.

But then we moved.

When it came time to finally unpack them, unwrapping each item, it was a little like sitting down with the ghosts of Christmas. Pulling the crinkling and crackling paper away, each revealed a little memory or feeling from a time long past. Work assignments. Sunny days when the lighting was perfect. Other days when it wasn’t at all. Excitement. Disappointment. The whole gamut of feelings.

It’s a lot.

Some things didn’t remain for long. I’ve committed to not holding onto items we don’t need or want — it’s healthier for us. So as I unpacked, some things were put away while others went to the donation pile.

Still, handling each item and all its mental baggage was emotional. Together, it told a story weaving together my childhood, my grandparents, my uncle, my ex-husband, my kids and my friends into a tapestry of yesterdays. Solitary evenings at home alone and later with the kids, tense evenings at home as a family, laughter, upsets, celebrations, arguments, plans, holiday meals with extended families … There’s just so much. It is all so much.

Part of me wished I didn’t open the boxes at all. If I haven’t needed this stuff for years, why should I get it out now? Shouldn’t I just donate it and move on? But ultimately, amid all the difficult emotions, there was a lot of good too.

Items I have loved but forgotten. Memories that are precious and good. Family.

I kept my beloved items, the most functional items and family heirlooms. They’re tucked away in organized cabinets waiting to be used again. And that holds a lot of hope for the future.

Even though this was a meeting with the ghosts of yesterday, these things can be part of new memories. And there’s nothing bad about that.

I’ve decided to join in the fun for National Blog Posting Month (also known as NaBloPoMo). It’s a blogging movement that’s been going on every November for years, though I’ve never done it before. Bloggers vow to post every day during the month of November. Considering that one of my goals is to be more consistent with my posting here on SCB, it seemed like a good idea when my friend Cate at Sweetnicks suggested it. She’s also participating this year, so do check out her site to see what she’s posting about today. It’s going to be a challenge, but I am excited to see how it goes.


Thursday 2nd of November 2017

I've had similar unpacking (and packing) experiences