Divorce is hard. Even when it’s for the best it’s not an easy experience. It’s laden with “what if’s,” “should have’s” and “what do I do now’s.” This is my fourth Christmas as a single mom and tonight I’m more thankful than ever that I didn’t throw out the china.
Backing up just a bit, a little over three years ago Christian and I moved into my lovely artist’s vessel, aka home.
We’d been living in an apartment that was one third of the size of the house we left behind. This meant that one third of our belongings were sold, a third was in storage, and the rest was in the apartment. Although I’m not so sure it was quite as evenly split as that.
After much angst we found a house to rent and it was time for the belongings that had been gathering dust in a storage container to meet the light of day. I scheduled the moving company to deliver the contents of the storage container and my parents volunteered to help me unpack.
I won’t go into all of the details but suffice it to say it took me 322 days to unpack all of the boxes and turn my porch into a slice of summer.
Unpacking items I hadn’t seen or used in two years was almost as surreal as walking through my house and marking things with labels that designated the disposition of individual belongings as keep, sell/donate, or store.
My standard line for the day the storage arrived was, “I haven’t used it in two years so I don’t need it, put it in the donate pile.” Memories, both good and bad, poured out of each box I opened. Naively I thought the experience would be without emotion.
One of the most difficult moments was when I opened the box labeled “china.” I unpacked a dinner plate; memories of Thanksgivings, Christmases, and special occasions flooded my mind and pushed tears down my face.
Hoping no one had seen, I stood up and said, “I haven’t used it in two years, donate it.”
It’s an understatement to say I was irrational that day and if Christian hadn’t asked, “but Mom, what dishes will we use for special occasions?” – I would have thrown out the china.
For me the china represented the hope I had as a new bride and the disappointment that things didn’t turn out the way I had planned. For him the china represented family, traditions, happy times, and perhaps stability or familiarity.
Tonight he asked if he could set the table for dinner. We’d invited his girlfriend to join us for pre-holiday meal; he chose to use the china.
Thank goodness I didn’t throw it out.