by Edna King
My attic is such a mess that I can’t slither through to retrieve my Christmas decorations. For the past few years, every time I’ve wanted to store something, I’ve sent one of my sons up to the attic to put the item away. When I ventured up into the attic myself recently, I couldn’t even find a path to wiggle through.
So much stuff! Instead of sending my boys to the attic, I’ve been sending them to Goodwill and the dump! It’s so easy to accumulate things over the years, and here comes Christmas, for many a time of accumulating more.
I gained a new perspective about the accumulation of stuff in my attic when I read about the Cornelius Vanderbilt II house, not the one in Asheville, but an older glorious mansion on W 57Th Street in NYC. Constructed amid the Gilded Age of the 1880’s, it was designed by a renowned architect (famous then, not so much now) and filled with lovely details such as bas-relief statues and other glorious artworks- mimicking European castles. This was a house meant to last for centuries.
When Cornelius Vanderbilt II died suddenly, instead of showcasing lavish parties and filing the rooms with envious guests, the house ensconced the solitary grief of his widow, Alice. For almost the next three decades, Alice lived there alone with a staff of 37 servants. Even she, with all her fortune, struggled to maintain this expansive property and eventually felt obliged to sell it to developers.
This elegant mansion, built for the ages, was soon torn down for a department store.
If even the Vanderbilt’s treasures don’t last for the ages, maybe it’s not so hard after all for me to let go of my faded wreath, failed craft projects, and boxes of things that used to be stuff I wanted to hang on to.
Soon, I’ll be able to reach the Christmas decorations and I’ll appreciate using them to prepare my house for the festive days ahead, while remembering that the true preparations are happening in my soul, shown by my daily thoughts and choices, as hopefully I seek the eternal beauty of Christ each day—the lasting treasure of Christmas.