This week I did some house cleaning. This meant checking shelves, closets, and other storage spaces to clear a little space. With each item I came across, there were three options: Keep it. Give it away. OR…throw it away.

I ended up with a short stack of items that I wanted to keep. Several birthday and Christmas cards from my parents and some handmade ones from my children. There is something special about a barely legible card [green and purple crayon] from your first grade daughter that says “Daddy, I lov you”.

The give-aways included books and articles of clothing. You know, pants and shirts made from fibers that somehow shrink while hanging in a closet for two years…

Then came the items to be thrown away. Some were easy. A few old cassette tapes…no 8 tracks…as well as a stack of ancient outdoor magazines that smelled like the inside of Shaq’s sneakers. Not too hard to part with those.

I did have to stop and think through the fate of one item, though. Actually, several boxes of them — My old sports trophies; faceless figurines of gold and silver gracing the tops of the wooden, metal and granite bases, some over two feet tall. My years of competition at the high school, college and semi-pro levels resulted in lots of trophies. The inscriptions told of many victories, awards and honors – Team captain; Most Valuable Player, State Champions, National runner up, and more. To be sure, each had meaning and special memories for me and I thought about the teammates that were part of my life “back then”. Soon came a flash-flood of images of championship games, baskets made, touchdowns scored, wild celebrations, and the literal blood, sweat, and tears.

Trophies. Monuments to past glory, recognition, cheering crowds…all for me. I thought long and hard about not only keeping them, but even putting those trophies on display. Perhaps clearing a series of shelves in my office so that when people came to visit I could tell my stories of the glory days. That sure made sense…why not bask and boast a little longer about past success?

Later that day, I finished up my cleaning project and drove to the Salvation Army Center to donate the “give away” items to someone a bit smaller around than I. Finally, I headed over to what we in the country affectionately call the dump, but its actually a recycling center. There I pulled the “throw away” boxes from the back of my truck and headed to the trash compactor. The employees there paid little attention as I tossed out the old magazines and cassettes. But a few of them stared as I took out the boxes of trophies and tossed them into the machine that quickly crushed them into tiny, unrecognizable pieces.

Afterwards, I went straight home and found some new frames for photos of my children and grandchildren. I then placed them on shelves where anyone that walks into my office can’t help but notice. You see, then I can tell stories about the true glory days and about trophies that are of immeasurably greater worth than those I left behind.

I look forward to telling of the times I became the father of Chris, Steven, Jeni, Daniel, Whitney and Lauren. Oh, and of the days when I became the grandfather of Bella and Joi…These are the true trophies of a man’s life and the only ones worth boasting about.