Open Me First

Christmas tree in lobby of hotel where we're staying: Marriott Residence Inn, San Jose/Campbell

You’ve done it when you’ve given someone a certain kind of gift—a camera, a camcorder, or something like that. Right next to the big bow, you’ve affixed a labelOpen me first.

What a simple concept, one I’d have expected to put to use during a most important voyage of my stay-at-home life: my family’s move from our oversized house to a downsized, now-being-remodeled, home.

Salvation Army pickup day: preparing to move out of our big and beautiful home

I like to think I’m an organized gal. Come the first of the year, I snatch women’s magazines off my supermarket’s shelves. You know, those “home journals” that tell you how to keep house and be a perfect wife or mother. Their articles are an irresistible seduction. Titles—such as Organize Your Home—call to me like sirens from their January covers.

Like a starving lioness, I devour those mags.  I prowl the aisles of Walmart and Target. I butter up the staff at The Container Store. In my quest for a perfectly organized life, my mouth waters at the variety of storage containers in delicious array. Clear plastic boxes I’m not afraid to pluck  off the shelves and toss into my cart.

Compared to this, Christmas shopping is one big zip. January is my time to dream and spend. Energized and full of New Year’s zest, I donate, recycle, or toss into the trash. When my work is done, with great tenderness, I squirrel the remaining good stuff in the storage containers I’ve selected from the stores. With little ceremony and much relief, I snap their covers on and admit those fine containers to the Organization Heaven of my closets’ shelves.

One would think the skills acquired from these annual efforts would’ve smoothed our family’s recent move. Except that we’re downsizing from 5,000+ square feet to less than 1500. Of course, this meant removing pickup truckload after pickup truckload of furniture and stuff for donation or recycling, and, sadly, for the dump.

Pickup-truckload of stuff to be junked

The removal of it all was a Herculean effort. And the machinations we went through to find good, caring homes for all the keeper stuff? Don’t even go there.

Absorbed was I—body and soul—in the sorting and inventorying needed to place our things in five different temporary storage venues. Didn’t I have to do that? I mean, don’t we need access to all these things while we live in a hotel ‘til our remodel is done?

One of our storage units, filling up. (See how organized I've set things up?)

Upon hearing my story, you might understand how I could forget the simplest idea. Had I remembered, I’d have placed our essentials—cameras, laptops,  and bullet-proof vests—all in a box labeled Open me First.

Alas, I did not. My dear daughter’s laptop, and her brand new Apple MacBook Air, have, unfortunately, gone missing. From what we can tell, these things are buried like needles in a haystack in our moving company’s warehouse. Which means our daughter can’t use them until we move into our remodel and quit the hotel.

This is why my holiday gift to you is a bit of friendly and unsolicited advice: if you happen to be wrapping gifts for Christmas morning, or preparing your family for a big move, write Open Me First on a box or two.

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...

Image via Wikipedia




About RitaElizabeth

I'm a recently widowed wife and mother who loves to use ideas and experiences from travel to enrich my family's life at home. I blog to share ideas with you and to hear your ideas and comments.
This entry was posted in Christmas, Domestic Arts, Home, Moving house and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Open Me First

  1. Janet Murtha says:

    It sounds like a Herculean tast to downsize to the the degree you have just done! Congratulations–you will recover after you get settled in, I’m sure. You’ve even made me feel that it could be possible to actually accomplish finding the Christmas wrapping paper and bows, if I would only follow your lead. Happy holidays!

  2. Labeling a box “open me first” is great advice when moving (and giving a special gift). It looks like those organizational skills of yours are being put to good use. When you eventually find your box of tech goodies it will be just like Christmas morning. Wishing you the best in your interim home while your new home is being remodeled. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Hugs, Diane

    • Hi, Diane,

      How nicely you put it–when our goodies are found, we’ll have Christmas all over again. I’ll definitely keep that in mind.

      Merry Christmas to you and your family, too. I hope you have fun Christmas weather back there in Georgia.

      Hugs, Rita

  3. kenny2dogs says:

    Hello Rita.
    Moving house can be such a bitter sweet experience. The house is not just bricks and mortar, it is a living ever changing place, a home. As we change, the home changes. We love where we live if we are happy within it’s comforting walls. But it stings when when we turn the lock and walk away for the final time. The place where all the wonderful memories of much laughter, happiness and excitement were born.
    Yes uprooting can be a most heart wrenching thing to do.
    However moving into a new home can compensate for the loss of an old friend. I wish you many years of fun and laughter to come, in your new world.
    Merry x/mas Rita and a happy new year, to you and your family.

    “prowling the isles of walmart like a starving Lioness ” love it !!!

    BTW. when I checked my inbox today, I had 6 new e/mails. I “opened your alert first” 🙂
    Kenny 🙂

  4. Kenny,

    How right you are (and how well you put it) that a house isn’t just bricks and mortar. For me, it’s so many memories. Actually, it’s a marriage. It’s motherhood, too. So many years of joy (and a bit of sadness, too.) My husband gave me such a beautiful home, for so many, many years. He loved to garden, and created a wonderful green place with his two hands! With his illness, he can’t do that anymore, and that is one of the reasons we’ve downsized.

    I know you understand about this, because of your fishing. I’ll be visualizing you starting gently and getting better and better, and eventually being on the sea again. Maybe your experience of the sea will be a bit different, but you’ll love it still.

    Once our remodel is complete, my husband will have a manageable space to do whatever he wants with the garden whenever he feels like it. Of all the things I’ll long for about that house, the top one is the garden.

    I visualize him starting gently and getting better and better, and eventually doing some gardening again. Maybe his experience of the garden will be a bit different, but he will love it still.

    I’m so flattered that the e-mail of my new post was the first one you checked this morning. Thank you!

    And I wish you a very merry Christmas, and a very happy and healthy New Year, too. A new year to be on the sea again.


  5. Greetings from Cape Town,
    Moving home is high up on the stress list of most stressful things for a person to endure. May your move be smooth and not too stressed, and may your new home welcome you with the warmest embrace. May your new home be just as you would want it to be.
    I wish you all the best over the festive season and may the New Year bring you much love and happiness.
    Take care,

  6. Esther Erman says:

    Hi, Rita,

    I’m filled with container — and organization — envy. I love those containers but I’m never actually quite sure what to do with them or what to put in where. Hmmm. If you ever get to the point where you have time to share expertise about how to apply all the women’s magazine advice, I’d love to hear.

    Meanwhile, Happy New Year hugs,

    • Hi, Esther,

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m chuckling because one woman’s feast is another woman’s fashion. In this case, my 22-year-old daughter’s famine. Her not infrequent complaint is that I squirrel everything away in those storage containers to such an extent that I’m the only one who knows where anything is. So, at our house, the attempts at organization can and do backfire.

      Nonetheless, you should see the inventory I have to keep track of our stuff in the five different storage places until the completion of our remodel.

      Could this be the unveiling of the control freak who hides inside me?

  7. carol says:

    Thanks for reminding us to keep some stuff packed in our car. I used to work in Campbell and it’s a great town. Hope you enjoy it and please check out my moving website. I’ve moved over twenty times and try to encourage women to move while keeping their family and humor intact.

    • Hi, Carol,

      Thanks for stopping by! I will definitely check out your website. I’m living in temporary housing right now (the Marriott Residence Inn here) and will have to move again when the remodel of our new house is done. Maybe I’ll get some good tips from your website. Happy Holidays!

  8. Oh dear, my heart goes out to you. Its such a big effort to move, and that too, to downsize. But I love your positive spirit. Thats how life is… constantly changing, but always with some good in it.

    BTW, I have an award for you on my blog when you find time
    And wishing you and your family a Happy Holidays!!!

  9. Honeybee,

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU and your family! And THANKS for the blog award–I already saw it and left a comment on your blog. Thanks so much for the honor.

    And, now I have to decide to whom to pass the love.

    May the new year bring you and your family all good things!

  10. kenny2dogs says:

    Have a wonderful x/mas day Rita.

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