One morning last week, the fire alarm in our building went off and my kids went berzerk. Like ber- to the -zerk. You would have thought the walls around us were burning. I tried to calm the children (easier said than done), while getting them to put on their shoes and coats. Once that was done, the thought of the potential that this could be a real emergency flickered across my mind. As I put on my own coat and started to hustle the kids towards the door, I thought if this were the real deal, what would I want to take with me? I grabbed my purse, which contained my wallet, my keys and my sunglasses. I took a second to look around and grabbed our family’s digital camera off the counter and put it in my pocket.
As we started out the door, the alarm stopped. Magically enough, the crying also stopped. And then I started thinking, is that all I would really miss? I realized I would mourn the time lost spent shopping for my belongings and those of my family, but not actually the items themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I do own nice things, but they are not irreplaceable. And acknowledging that is really quite freeing. Everything I own is merely a tool to make each day either easier or more enjoyable. As I tend to be a pretty consistent minimalist in most areas of my life and home , it’s in the area of clothing (particularly kid clothing) that I like to indulge in sometimes. Realizing that my kids don’t need any more clothes and they really are quite content with what they already had is a great feeling.
The people of Slave Lake, Alberta haven’t been quite so lucky this past week. Although all of them have escaped with their lives, their small town has fallen victim to a forest fire, with about a third of the homes and buildings being lost. A local business has been collecting donations this week for the people of Slave Lake and on Wednesday, I dropped off a couple of bags of the kids clothing. A lot of what I gave away were clothing items my kids had told me they would never be interested in wearing.
I couldn’t help thinking that there could be kids my own children’s ages who had lost theirs homes and all their belongings, including their clothes. It felt good to be able to give to them items from our closets when they were going unused in our home. I’m sure they will be appreciated, and I hope that the people of Slave Lake know that people across Canada are keeping them in their thoughts as they face recovering and rebuilding following this natural disaster.