I bought a new TV a few weeks ago. Odd how excited I feel about this. Whenever I buy something that costs more than $200 it feels like a big deal. It is so rare that I buy something if the previous item still works perfectly. I bought my old TV used in 1992. I have never had it serviced and it works fine. I’ve been kind of thinking about getting a new TV for a while and have even looked at them in different places but could never bring myself to actually do it. So, I was in a store that was having a sale and I bought it.
I came home and set up the TV and promptly put the old TV in my closet because it works and I can’t seem to let it go yet.
This purchase and watching myself has enlightened me some on my purchasing gremlins. I have a hard time letting go of something that works perfectly fine. I think this is my Dad’s Scottish influence and connects to integrity and fairly sharing resources and even respect. Yet, it’s hard to pass up a good deal – Mom’s Irish influence which I believe is about fun and grace. Once I get the new thing, I REALLY struggle getting rid of the old thing (because what if the new thing breaks – I’ll have this as a back up just in case there’s a movie emergency!) which for me seems to be attached to security and trust.
My mother had a closet in their big house. We called it the green closet because once 30 years ago it had been painted green. It hadn’t been green for at least 20 years but we all knew it was the green closet and it gave my parents, siblings and I a certain sense of predictability and trust keeping the name even though we changed the color. Even the grandkids of that era knew what we meant when we called it the green closet. Anyway, the green closet was filled with broken items that Mom was planning on gluing back together someday. One of them was a bust of John F. Kennedy, Jr. that she got for Pop because, as she said, “He loved JFK!” She said it was one of his treasured items. I remember clearly the day it broke.
My oldest sister and brother were having a knock down kind of fight, really going at it. It was scary and I was about 8 years old at the time. “The Bust” got broken and we all shuddered knowing Pop would be furious because his precious bust had gotten broken. He got mad at them for having a fight but laughed about the bust. He never liked JFK he said. Never voted for him. Hated “the damn bust.” It held no value for him at all and in fact was a source of friction for him.
Mom liked JFK and so bought the bust for Pop. It was her treasure. She had given him something that she treasured, I believe, as a way of connecting with him and sharing in a value of hers.
That broken bust of JFK lived in the green closet from 1966-2005 waiting to be glued until my folks moved into a small duplex, in their elder years. There simply wasn’t room in the new place for Mom’s broken treasures.
Countless times in my growing up years I tried to throw the bust and other broken items away but Mom wouldn’t have it. I felt annoyed every interaction about this topic. Now I understand that her treasures were just that, treasures. Things that held meaning to her. Getting rid of them, even broken, must have felt scary because she so valued predictability, safety and security. My needs at the time were about wanting space, beauty and choice.
So, I was pondering all of this as I was purchasing my new TV and putting the 20 year old TV and somewhat newer DVD player in my closet. My first thought was that this actually seems kind of “normal” to me because they work and no glue or repair is required. Who knows, maybe there will be a movie emergency and I’m going to get the satisfaction knowing that I can whip out my handy backup on a moment’s notice. Or it will just live there quietly until I’m tired of it taking up space and then I’ll haul it (yes, it’s VERY heavy!) to the thrift store down the block.
Yep, my needs for hanging onto the old TV and DVD player are the same as Mom’s green closet of treasures, safety and security and predictability. My needs then are the same as now also, space, beauty and choice. All met with my current choice to store the old TV and DVD player in my closet.
If I want to consider myself more enlightened than Mom, I could get rid of the old TV and DVD player sometime before 2049 so there’s lots of time for more pondering. Meanwhile, I am certain that Mom is in her afterlife surrounded by her treasurers, the broken JFK bust and all.
Mary Mackenzie, Flagstaff, Arizona
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