Down in the Basement

In dream analysis or in psychotherapy, the basement is commonly thought to represent the subconscious…the deep underbelly of our psyche. All of our fears, all of the impulses that we keep secret or buried live in the basement. If you dream of this subterranean room it could signify that there is something important that your subconscious mind wants to inform the conscious.

If you dream of basements.

However, if you are helping your mom clear out clutter, you will find that basements are also where old Christmas ornaments grow musty and yellow.

“Yuck” I said to my mom as we cleaned out a cabinet shelf.  “This has GOT to go.”

“But somebody might want that!” my mother plaintively said.

“Mom.  Nobody wants this,” I said as I tossed her Christmas disco ball in the trash.

I was ruthless and brutal with my mother’s memories and her baubles of years gone by.  Old Christmas candles and santa statues:  GONE.


Then we got to the box where my old children’s tea set was stored. Each piece was wrapped in old tissue paper and in the bottom of the box I found two old barrettes and hair roller, probably mine, most likely stored away 45 years ago. I sighed. I used to play with that old tea set quite a lot and treasured it as it had been given to me by my grandma.

“Oh no,” I said to my mother as I re-wrapped the tea set, “we have to keep these.  These will stay.”


I don’t know what to do with that child’s tea set yet I cannot imagine parting with it. It remains in the basement, a memory of something precious to me when I was a little girl.

And then we came across some very old wooden boxes in the corner. I picked them up and studied them.

“Oh” said my mom. “Those old boxes. Now they used to be in your dad’s house when he was just a little boy. They were so poor that they didn’t have chairs and they sat on those old boxes to eat their dinner.


Oh. Those old boxes. They hold the memory of an impoverished depression era family. They will stay, too. I don’t know what I’ll do with those old boxes but I will find somewhere for them, even if I have to mount them on my walls with my child’s tea set arranged inside.


9 thoughts on “Down in the Basement

  1. Reminds me of going through my grandparents basement after Grandma died. I remember standing outside the front door as things whizzed over my head into the dumpster. I had to force myself not to crawl into the dumpster and start pulling things out. I too would want to save those boxes, as worthless monetarily as they are.

  2. We are moving in less than a month. Yikes! So I am going through closets, too, and being ruthless, sort of. We don’t have a basement, but it’s amazing how much stuff an attic can hold.

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