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The New Domesticity: For Want of a Nail

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Earlier this winter, I finally decided to roll up my sleeves and embrace the wisdom of tidying expert Marie Kondo, who reminds her clients that “the goal of tidying is to make room for meaningful objects, people and experiences.” We create space for that which “sparks joy” and brings serenity to the home.

Dear reader: my home office did not spark joy. It sparked something more akin to horror. Admittedly, part of the motivation behind this urge to purge was a shift in our family’s lifestyle. Formerly, the office had been used as our home school room. It occurred to me that, with half of my children graduated, it was no longer a wise use of space to devote an entire room solely to that purpose. (It sometimes takes a while for the light to dawn.)

Accordingly, I dove in and looked for joy among papers and art supplies, setting aside important keepsakes and gladly tossing that which was no longer necessary. I found myself sorting through many items which my children hadn’t used in a very long time. It was tangible proof of how little decisions, made over time, can literally stack up. 

Now, thankfully, this office is a beast I can conquer; a stack of to-be-filed papers will probably not lead to dire consequences. Yet sometimes, the “little” decisions can lead to harsh realities, as described in the age-old poem and proverb, “For Want of a Nail.”

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
All for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Perhaps the farrier in this poem was too lazy, distracted, or selfish to tend to that horseshoe nail when the need arose. “Ah, but I’ll take care of ye another day!” he may have grunted. And yet, that day never came . . . and all was lost.

Our homes are our kingdoms. It is by “littles” that we have opportunities to build up or tear down these kingdoms.

To read the rest of this article, pick up a copy of the February 2020 issue at any of these locations, or view the digital archive copy below.

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About Author

Julianna Lawson and her husband, Jamie, make their home in Vancouver with their four children, ages 13 to 21.

Comments (2)

  1. Wow, I can relate to every word of this piece. It is amazing what quite literally piles up over the years, if we don’t cultivate habits to let items go. When you have clear spaces, you want to invite others to join you. The byproduct is hospitality. Great read!

    - Reply
    • So true, Maria. I love that path from creating space to creating a hospitable atmosphere! Thank you for reading and sharing.

      - Reply

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