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To paraphrase my depression-era-born, Bronx-raised grandmother, she would love to live in a Tiffany jewel box.  As in that sleek, simple, rectangular, teal-colored cardboard box that often accompanies fine jewels from the Tiffany company.

My mother and I have pondered this question for years.  Why a jewel box?  Why one from Tiffany of all places?  We have a few theories:

  1. My grandmother loves the color teal.  Tiffany’s signature color is, well, close to teal.
  2. My grandmother takes care of her beloved possessions but doesn’t love cleaning; it’s more a habit or a discipline than a pleasure.  Tiffany’s jewel boxes are very neat and simple, and thus very easy to clean.
  3. There’s something about opening a Tiffany jewel box that’s light and airy and pleasant, even when the box contains some luminous, expensive, glittery jewel and its setting or padding.

In contrast:

  1. What color is a house when it’s overstuffed with stuff?  It seems like a house full of shadows; of drab shades of grey.  Bonus points if you can actually see the colors of the baseboards, the floor and/or the walls!
  2.  Is cleaning proportional to the amount of stuff you have?  Whole-heartedly, YES.  It seems to take far longer to dust a table full of stuff than it does to dust an empty table.  The same goes for a window covered in dressings or making a bed covered in pillows and covers.  I won’t even touch cluttered shelves.
  3. How does a place feel when it is cluttered with stuff?  Does it feel light and airy?  Of course not, it feels heavy and under stress with the burden of so many possessions!

Plus, notice how we haven’t even talked about money or value yet?  Tiffany is a very famous jeweler that can charge A LOT for its brand name, let alone charge for the raw value of its splendidly-cut precious gems and jewelry.  But the idea of living in a jewel box sans jewel(s) sounds incredibly…simple…and…easy…and…inexpensive.  It’s not complicated to craft a jewel box.  It’s not expensive or time-consuming to build or maintain a simple box.

And you just don’t use the word “cheap” around Tiffany.  They’re much classier than that!

So a Tiffany jewel box is, by itself, something simple yet elegant and purposeful.  It sounds like something deliciously easy to live in.

I think my grandmother was an accidental minimalist before minimalism was even a thing.  A lady like her that was born to little in one of the toughest modern decades has no problem continuing to live frugally.  My grandmother treasures the little she possesses; she may not have the most elegant furniture or the largest flat-screen TV or the most expensive works of art.

But she’s happy with her stuff.  Because she enjoys her possessions, my grandmother takes care of her possessions too, ensuring she can go decades without having to replace even a vacuum cleaner.  And it’s a true statement about her vacuum cleaner;  it’s one of those shiny steel Hoover-brand beasts from the late 1950s, purchased around the time she and my grandfather got married.  I swear the vacuum cleaner is older than my parents!

As for me, my accidental minimalist habits comes from a very rare and harsh way of living: on a warship, another kind of steel beast often exposed to tough and stark living conditions.  “Living like you live on a warship” sounds like a miserable and depriving lifestyle because in many ways it is a miserable and depriving lifestyle.  Living in a Tiffany jewel box sounds like a much more pleasant, and possibly even glamourous, way to live, and yet it’s somehow just as simple of a life to live.

When it comes to where I want to call home, my goal is to live in something sleek and clean and light and airy.  My goal is to live in my own version of a Tiffany jewel box.

So now I ask you to cast your eyes around your home and take stock of how you live.  Now ask yourself the question: how can you turn your abode into your Tiffany jewel box?