My neighbor BFF and I had what we consider a brilliant idea. This spring we will hold a “Most Epic Tag Sale.” We will combine forces, energy, organizational abilities, and most of all, our unwanted stuff, and have a major two-household clean out.
A few years ago I vowed to never again have a tag sale. (Or a “garage sale”, depending on what part of the country you live in… similar to the debate between grinders, hoagies and subs, or pop and soda… but I digress). I had decided such sales were a whole lot of work with little reward, and there was always left over stuff that no one wanted. But my BFF swayed me. We will do this one together, planned long in advance, and will have the Salvation Army ready to come and pick up whatever doesn’t sell. Brilliant.
Even more brilliant is the fact that we made this decision literally months in advance, thus giving us all winter to sort through and clean out our homes. I figured this would be a piece of cake… spend a couple days in the basement, another couple days whipping through the rest of the house, then I could relax and wait for spring.
Silly, silly me. I have already lost track of the hours spent in just my basement, with much more still to go. We have been in our current home for almost 15 years. Certainly not an eternity, but apparently long enough to fill every nook and cranny with items we really don’t need. I never really thought I was a kleptomaniac or hoarder…but now I’m beginning to wonder. Some of the items, and quantity of items, I’ve found has truly been eye opening. I have found odd things like small knick-knacks with no true or even emotional value, that for some reason I have not only kept, but packed and moved with me since my teen or college years. I came across a whole box of miscellaneous candles and candle holders; a plastic tub full of mis-matched mugs and cheap glassware; Christmas decorations that I have never put up….and somewhere along the way, I apparently became a basket-aholic. I now have a pile of a dozen baskets to go in the sale, yet still have plenty on my shelf to be kept!
I’m not sure how all of these collections happened while I wasn’t paying attention – because I’m the one who did the collecting. I must have had a hidden personality all these years who felt the need to keep everything, as if I’m channeling a past life of surviving the Great Depression. Well, guess what. Time to meet my new personality: Purge and Clean-out Girl.
Most of us R.W.’s rarely take the time to really clean out our stuff. It can be a painstaking and arduous task, so it generally does not make it onto our list of priorities on our To Do lists, and only happens when we have to pack and move to a new location. Even then, at least in my world, apparently I have gone ahead and moved stuff that I didn’t even need.
What I have discovered, however, is it can be liberating and exhilarating, and in some ways, fascinating. I am thrilled that I can now much more easily walk through part of my basement. Boxes are getting organized and categorized. What is of no use to me, could be very useful or of interest to someone else. Setting aside so much stuff to go feels great.
As for the fascination….there have been items I have come across that I forgot I had, or that of course immediately bring up fond past memories of my childhood. Even more recently obtained objects hold special meaning, like the bags of stuffed animals my son sorted through with me. He pulled out certain ones that he remembers specifically playing with when he was little, and I pulled out fuzzy critters I remember putting in his crib. I don’t know what if anything we will ever do with the stuffies we decided to keep, but we knew we couldn’t part with them.
That is, after all, the biggest challenge when attempting a clean-out of some magnitude. We are forced to make a decision between keeping something simply for sentimental reasons, or parting with it due to lack of use or need. I know darn well that I am a sentimental old fool, and I will keep several storage boxes of memories. And that’s ok. Its good to cut back, get a bit more lean, do away with useless items. But the items that mean something to us, or claim a part of our histories, no matter how seemingly trivial, are well worth keeping.
Today I opened a box that holds antique linens from past generations, as well as very old, but beautiful, monogramed silver. Will I ever use a silver tea set? Not unless I decide to host a Downton-themed tea party. But tucked in with the silver is a note, written in my mother’s handwriting, that explains how the items were bequeathed to me from my Grandmother (after whom I am named). Priceless.
Within some of the piles and boxes lie small mysteries. I came across a small wooden house with a removable roof. I don’t remember where it came from, or why I have it, but in some recess in my mind, I feel like it has some sort of significance. So I left it on a shelf and made a note to ask my siblings about it. Similarly, in that box of antiques, I came across kitchen linens, on which my mother had written “Pantry. 1939.” I don’t know why she would write the location and year on kitchen towels, but I’d love to find out. Too bad I can’t go back in time to see her do it and ask her why.
Yes, it is a very good thing that our Most Epic Tag Sale is not happening next weekend. For each corner, closet, box, shelf and cabinet holds intrigue. Some items are easily price-tagged and stacked to go; others are worth a hearty laugh and a “Really? Why have I kept this all these years?” before getting added to the pile. And still others are worth a few minutes of stopping to remember, smile, and maybe even shed a tear before they are careful re-wrapped and stored, or cleaned up and brought out into the open to be enjoyed.