Carry-ons. Roll-aboards. Suitcases. Trunks. The insane lugging of stuff. Containers to haul what we need with us. I often say to Will & Liam that need is a funny word. I take two small carry-ons on board planes and put them under the seat in front of me; then I watch the frenzied roll-aboarders as they look for an empty slot in overhead bins to hurl their over-stuffed roll-aboards. And I flinch when it’s above me that they take that almighty swing upward.

We checked four suitcases to come home from England. After traveling, the sight of our bags circling on luggage delivery systems in Baggage Claim warms my heart. Even if they are ripped, bent or marred, they usually hold up well enough not to scatter dirty laundry everywhere. Reclaiming them is the last step in our travels controlled by the airline. Ahhh…Freedom.

In England, the cases were packed with new Christmas presents and our clothes, with the exception of the mud-covered white socks and underwear that Liam peeled off after falling at the swampy cricket pitch. The likelihood of mud stains coming out wasn’t good. Shoes and jackets and sweat pants were recoverable. There was liberation in throwing the socks and underwear away, in declaring “no” on what I could’ve labored on over two or three washes. No guilt. No designer-ware here.

Once home we’ll lug the heavy bags through the mudroom and to the laundry room. And sometimes we live out of the bags for days, but flying on the 31st, we have the 1st as a holiday to recover and empty the bags. Do laundry. Find homes for new Christmas presents. Get toiletries to the bathrooms. And finally, when the cases morph from heavy baggage to empty luggage, they return to the basement. Except for the one that ripped on the way to England and is now held together with duct tape and shrink wrap. It has served us well. It was a freebie, and it’s time to relinquish it.

So many vessels. As we haul them around and feel their weight, “baggage” moves to the negative realm, particularly if it’s not unpacked, and only keeps getting heavier as more is shoved inside. What good is lugging baggage around? It’s heavy. Not economical when it comes to time. If every unpleasant or challenging event results in a big old suitcase or trunk – a kind of mental scoreboard of everything bad that’s ever happened… Ye gads. Time to lighten the load. At least down-size to a roll-aboard. Keep the lessons learned neatly packed. Perhaps pare them down little by little to a small carry-on.

Baggage – whether big suitcases on wheels or trunks our ancestors used to heft along – serves us well to take on travels to new places and to old favorites.

Unpack the rest and throw away anything caked in mud.