A regular mid-summer chore of mine is to defrost the deep freezer downstairs.

The 32 bags of frozen blackberries, 10lbs of blueberries, most of an apple tree turned into sauce, a small school of fish and the Christmas turkey dwindled down over the winter to 2 bags of frozen blackberries, one bag of blueberries, and a bunch of crab bait. In the fall it was full to overflowing, but in the summer, I empty it out completely and give it a clean.

We spend a lot of time in our house on food. We gather, clean, and prepare it for the feasts. We debate the merits of the best food, being food secure and donating to the food bank. Food consumes a lot our time and yet seems to vanish. The volume in the freezer ebbs and flows with the seasons.

When we cooked up our first will it took an enormous amount of time.

This seemed odd because we lacked a house, had nothing in the RRSP and our stuff was limited to the size and quality of a very small garage sale. The lawyer said the first task was to name guardians for our kids – our only treasure.

A year later we called and said, “We did it! We have the name of the guardians.”

He said, “Great and what are the names of the alternates?”

Well, that took another year…

Creating a will takes effort, even when you seem to have less stuff than a gaggle of sunbathers at the beach.

It is important to leave directions, bequeath treasures and divide the spoils of a lifetime of accumulation. Possessions ebb and flow. RRSPs fill up and are spent down.

Our wishes sometimes change – but they need to be known. So we take time to write it all down, review it amidst life’s major moments, and store the document where it can be easily found.

We pay attention to the freezer and our wills because the consequence of not doing so is not pretty.

My neighbour made a dump run with his trailer full of frozen lumps he could not remember freezing or saving. We have watched siblings dissolve into bad humour when conflicting memories of what her exact wishes were trigger arguments that generate more heat than light.

Whether your freezer is empty or full, whether the table is set for a feast or simply set for two; take a moment — no, spend some quality time — and get your wishes on paper.

And tell others to do the same.

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