Downsizing: Keep Mine, Toss His

“Honey, start packin’.”

When my husband called me on his way home from work and said those words, I immediately died. Then I came back to life and had the presence of mind to say “Wha…?”

“The boss said we could go to Elko tomorrow and get the rest of our stuff,” he replied.

“Oh, good,” I said. “You really had me scared for a second!”

Cowboys will quit or get fired for any reason or no reason, so it took me a few minutes to recover from the initial misunderstanding from my husband’s phone call.

When we moved from Elko, Nevada to Prescott, Arizona last fall, we left most of our furniture and belongings in a storage unit up north. Once we were more settled in at the O RO, though, I wanted to finish furnishing our home.

Our new home is a tiny 2-bedroom cow camp house, so we had some downsizing to do. While deciding what to keep and what to donate to a thrift store, I realized all my stuff was precious and valuable, and all of my spouse’s stuff wasn’t. I didn’t mention this revelation prior to departing on our trip, though. I figured I would save it for the end, when we had exhausted our supply of road trip stress triggers and needed a fresh spark to ignite an argument.

Once we arrived in Elko and stood face-to-storage-unit with all our worldly possessions, we began unpacking boxes and sorting things into “donate” and “keep” piles.

“Do you really need this box marked ‘extra silver conchos’?” I asked my husband. “Don’t you have enough silver bits and bridle outfits?”

“Where’s our marriage certificate?” he replied. “I’m beginning to question its validity.”

I have been keeping a journal since I was 9 nine years old, and I keep most of these handwritten volumes in a plastic tub. Even though the name of my BFF’s fourth-grade crush is no longer relevant to my daily life, I refuse to get rid of my diaries, because they are part of my history. On the other hand, Jim’s history began when he met me. Every time we move, I ask him if we really need to keep his childhood baseball card collection.

“Yes, those might be really valuable someday.”

“So, I should stop handing them to the baby to shred into confetti and throw out the window when he’s fussy?”

Jim turned away and resumed his search for our marriage certificate. Instead, he found the waffle iron.

“I don’t even like waffles. Can we get rid of this thing?” he asked.

“No, I really like waffles, and so do your children.”

He tossed it into the donation pile.

In the end, we kept the silver and the waffle iron, but we got rid of a big tub of broken tack, a custom pool cue with a mother-of-pearl inlaid handle that has never left its case in 10 years, clothes the kids have outgrown and the entire contents of six boxes we never unpacked at our last two houses.

We had whittled our worldly possessions down to only the ones that served a practical purpose, brought us joy, reminded us of loved ones, and could comfortably fit into a twenty-foot stock trailer.

“I’m proud of us, we got rid of a lot of stuff,” Jim said as he surveyed our work.

“Yes, and I realized some of your stuff is precious and valuable after all,” I replied. “I mean, some of your stuff was originally gifts from me.”

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About Jolyn Young

I grew up in California, way up north near the Oregon border. My family raised commercial Herefords long enough to get me hooked on cowboying, for better or for worse, but not for prosperity. I met my husband, Jim, when we were working for neighboring ranches in North Fork, Nevada. We fell in love, got married and had a baby - kind of in that order. We now live on the O RO Ranch in northern Arizona, where Jim works as a cowboy and I take care of our two kids and write a blog and various freelance assignments. I love the Lord and credit Him with all my victories and accomplishments. More important than anything I accomplish or don't accomplish, though, is the eternal salvation of my soul that believing in Jesus promises me. Thanks for your time. Have a great day!
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