The invention of the refrigerator revolutionized food preservation. But who could have imagined that modern families would also come to use it as a backdrop for their personal art and photo galleries? And more importantly, one day, a genius (surely a woman with small children) affixed a small dry erase board to the door and motherhood took one giant step forward! For years, by simply scanning this board, with one look at “command central” I could check off my life in record time: groceries needed, basketball practice reminders, children’s whereabouts and – as often as not – various notes of endearments shared among the five of us.
So, it may come as no surprise that when my husband and I decided to finally upgrade this trusty appliance a few years ago, I experienced a mini-crisis about what to transfer to the new fridge! (Secretly, I think my husband was thrilled, he being the one in this arrangement who prefers a clutter free existence … and that fridge was anything but clutter free!) Clearing off all of our memorabilia took me much longer than I had imagined. Each and every item I removed flooded my mind with memories and filled my heart with emotion. Eventually, my wits returned and I tossed the remaining items into a zip lock. Those decisions could wait. The new, side-by-side was due for delivery. I needed to be ready … which also meant cleaning out the inside. Now there was a dismal task!
The new beauty slid into place without a hitch. (An even more impressive feat when you consider that my poor husband had to move the entire wall over three inches and, get this, build a four inch platform for the refrigerator to sit on. Such is the reality of having a six foot tall wife!) I was one happy cook!Finally, I had my first ice maker! (I could have had one years ago but how could that be justified when the existing fridge worked perfectly well? Besides, there had always been that pesky wall to consider.) On delivery day, I was like a kid a kid on Christmas morning, carefully arranging condiments, food, and drinks in their proper places.
But the thrill disappeared when I faced the exterior. I sat on a kitchen stool and contemplated the evolution of our family. (Really, you’d think a grown woman would have better things to do!) I was stumped, stalled in my tracks. Sitting in my quiet, empty house, it suddenly made no sense to move the Priestley archives onto the new fridge.
I realized we were a different household and it was time for a different fridge. Besides, maybe my husband and his “clutter free gene” deserved a turn! In the end, perhaps only 1/10 of the original treasures went back up. I was ruthless and it felt great. I did treat myself to a new dry erase board – still a life saving tool, now more important than ever. A couple of pictures of the kids went up, a few cards (like the one with the Super Hero, flying “wiener” dog our youngest recently sent us.) The last item? A poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson that is worth sharing with you:
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.
I seem to scan this poem whenever I get ice cubes and chilled water right from the door. It’s a good reminder that success is really not about being able to get ice and water from an appliance door!
And while I have come to appreciate the simplicity of the clutter-free appliance, I also know that (take a deep breath, dear husband) there will be plenty of room for new things when someday, the grandchildren begin to arrive!