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Friday, January 2, 2009

I seem to be confusing New Year's with Spring.

The Vietnam Veterans of America organization cold-called last week to ask if we had anything we might like to set out for donation right before the New Year. I eyed the bag of clothes meant for the thrift store that'd been sitting by the front door for over a month and told them yes, we'd have at least a little something. They sounded grateful. I gather these calls don't usually end so successfully, if they even start in the first place. We are, after all, like the only people in this country who don't have caller ID.

The day before the pick-up they called to remind me and verify our address. That was just the motivation I needed to gather more stuff. I started with the storeroom under the stairs where I'd been collecting items meant for the thrift store. Items which, in all honestly, would probably wither and die before ever finding new friends through consignment; the thrift store's schedule simply doesn't jive with my life and I'm finding weeks turning into months before I make it there with another load.

Besides, truth be told, all that money I've made consigning? I just tallied it: in the past year I've commissioned $473.68. And it's probably all gone right back into the thrift store. Much of it on needed items, yes -- shoes and clothes for the kids, for instance. But much of it? Meh, not so much. Just impulse buys that were such a bargain. It's one thing to get Sean-Peter some snow boots when he's outgrown his old ones. It's another to get him a cute shirt because it's such a bargain at $2.75, when he's already got a drawer full of cute shirts that were such a bargain. That's a weakness of mine, one I am going to work on this next year. A resolution, perhaps?

Repeat after me:

"Just because it's a bargain doesn't mean you can afford it."
"Just because it's a bargain doesn't mean you need it."

Even when it's for my kids. Especially when it's for my kids.

Let's all stamp that on our debit cards, shall we?

I gathered a decent pile rather quickly, but this was just the beginning. I decided to tackle a daunting, neglected task: my room.
You can't really tell from this photo but that pile is double deep. You might notice the tag still on at least one of the items. The bag is a backpack I bought in Sausalito some 15 years ago. I still love it, but it's frayed at the ends and I probably haven't used since three moves ago. One of the sweaters is from high school. More than a few shirts I've had since college, over fifteen years ago now. Another sweater has a tag from Montgomery Ward. Did you know Montgomery Ward's going out of business after 99 years? I hadn't realized they were still in business.

And no, those are not my dinosaur footy pajamas. The little ones' outgrown clothes often camp out in my space while they wait for me to find them a new home.

I've been carrying around so many things mindlessly, move to move, place to place, pregnancy after pregnancy... I always lost the weight after each baby, effortlessly, by breathing, it seemed. But in the last two years I've gained almost ten pounds that seem to be here to stay, and I don't mind, actually; I always wished I could gain weight but I'm one of those people who never could, until now. Comes with age, I suppose. I only wish it would redistribute itself a bit (why couldn't it all go to my boobs?) but that's another topic.

So I aimed a critical eye at everything I owned, figuring out what no longer fits and being honest with myself that it never will again. And fessing up about the things I simply don't wear even though they're perfectly good clothes. If I said to myself, "I might have a use for that someday," I got rid of it.

Then I moved to the linen closet. That most wondrous of American inventions and something I so took for granted when we moved here that I just threw things in there willy-nilly. And there those things have sat for almost a year-and-a-half.John was concerned when he saw this pile. "What about towels for when we have guests?" I told him to go look, just go look, at what is still in the linen closet and then try to explain to me exactly why do we still have so many towels? Why? Why? And where on earth have I been keeping them when we didn't even have a linen closet? I think that's what happened: they were stuffed somewhere so elusive they survived by evasion.

And three solitary fitted sheets. What happened to the matching flat sheets? And how long have I been carrying around half a twin? Another mystery for the ages, like the socks that disappear in the dryer, things just up and walk away (sometimes with a little help) with every move. The only question is, how many moves ago.Pillowcases. All of them. No, we don't own this many pillows. Yes, everyone already has pillows on their beds with pillowcases on them. I really can't explain this. Does anyone else have a problem with abundance?The final pile, gathered in one day. There's more back by the cat that's not quite visible. Although the cat's a keeper. Even though he still tries to sneak out the door every chance he gets. Look at him there, just waiting. Like he knows all this stuff has to go outside. Stinker.

I didn't stop once they carted this stuff away. I tackled the entry way closet next, Sean-Peter's closet ... wonderful inventions, these closets. Very dangerous. And we've never had so many before. About the time I get around to utilizing them effectively it'll be time to move again.

And I went to Goodwill today, to take back some jeans that didn't fit Olivia. She does need jeans. Just one more good pair will help get her through the winter, but I got her two. Oh, and a dress.

Which she didn't need.
But this is one little girl who loves her dresses. The sparklier the better. And for $2.19? Come on.
This is why I don't make New Year's Resolutions. I already fell off the wagon.


Mike and Erin said...

Too cute! Love the dress. It's good to know that I'm not the only one with piles that sit around forever waiting to be taken to the thrift store. Shamefully, we were over our weight limit for this last move--yikes! That obviously inspired me to do some cleaning out... Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

I'm actually really impressed that you managed to keep all this extra stuff when you move so often! :) No, seriously!
And doesn't it feel awesome to get rid of all that junk? I love thrift stores and getting rid of junk. And I love O's new dress--TOTALLY worth it and needed, I feel.

Carmen said...

Oh my stars, where did you get all those pillowcases?! Everything else I could relate to, but the pillowcases are a mystery to me! Ha!
$400 some dollars is nothing to sneeze about in a year. Especially when you are finding clothes at such good prices. Good for you! I think there is an adjustment period when your kids stop growing so rapidly. You are so used to having to resupply their clothes every few months, that when things start fitting longer, you realize you have too much. I agree, the cuteness and the bargain combined is hard to resist. You'll get broken of that soon enough when your idea of cute does not match theirs...hopefully a long while from now! Or when they continue to wear the same hoodie day after day even though there are three more in the closet and you wonder why you bother...hypothetically speaking, of course.

judy said...

What an inspiration! I'm going to try to meet your seven (?) and maybe even raise you one!