Strange times for our relationship with stuff. Hurricane Irma storms through the Caribbean, while soaked Houston is slowly drying out. We have to think about what we value most.
Anyone who has faced evacuation or lived through a natural disaster will tell you that there comes a bone chilling moment when just have to walk away. My moment came when my children were young and we were given one hour to evacuate our home before a hurricane. This was in the 1980’s. I gathered up the kids, our pets, the essentials for my infant son and toddler daughter and threw all the important papers and family photos into a big oval wicker laundry basket. I remember pausing briefly as I packed the car to wonder how I would feel if I came back and the house were gone or reduced to matchsticks.
We’d be ok. Sad, Horrified, Traumatized, but ok. Everything else could be replaced. It was naive, reassuring and clarifying. That time the damage from that storm was minor.
I’d love to tell you that I took that realization to heart and didn’t accumulate things that I didn’t need or value. But remember it was the 1980’s. And I had young kids. So there was ever increasing amounts of stuff. Notice the passive voice as if I wasn’t responsible for every bit of what came through the door?
This brings me to heirlooms.
Noun: heirloom; plural noun: heirlooms, a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations.
Here's the rub, it can only be an heirloom if the heir’s value it. The loom part suggests a thread woven from one generation to the next. Alas more and more we don't want or can't take what our parents and grandparents have so carefully accumulated and saved for us.
Now you might think this would be the perfect time to give up some things that no one in your family wants. There is so much need. So many many people who have lost everything. Those who have worked in disaster relief say please Don't.
Stuff, in fact, often adds hardship on top of disaster. So DO help as much as you can with financial donations. When Irma is done there will be even more need and for assistance. There are many important lessons learned from past disasters, the experts know what really can help, listen to the wisdom of those who have been through it.
Please keep the people of Houston and those in Irma’s path at the top of your charitable giving that way they can get what they need and want not what we want them to have.