To Keep or Not to Keep

We have an issue with throwing things away in our family.  Mostly, that we don’t want to.

Andy believes everything is useful.  From empty butter tubs to pencils that are too short, he has uses for everything.  He’s not a hoarder.  He really does have a purpose for all of these items that the world sees as trash, and there are moments when I’m a little awed by a man who can find the beauty in an empty butter tub.

Andy says that he has to store things everywhere because we may need them in the future, and I hate to admit it, but he’s right!  Over and over, we’ll be out and needing something, and Andy will have it—in his pocket, in the car, in his wallet—he’ll pull it out of somewhere along with a smug grin.  How can I argue against these magician-like moments when he saves the day?  Other families may have more space in their homes, but if someone ever comes to the door holding a mound of butter with no place to put it, those people are going to feel very silly.

Colin also sees beauty in the seemingly useless.  When we were cleaning up Christmas (a very emotional event for both children), I asked the kids to clean the decorations out of their rooms.  Colin came back with a decoration that he’d hidden in his room since last Christmas.

“You told me to clean up last year, and I just couldn’t let this go,” he said.  “So I hid it.”

For a whole year he hid this thing!  And what was it?  An empty paper box with tissue paper in it.

Yeah.  I threw it away this year.

I’m lying.  I put it in the Christmas box.  I had to!  He kept it for a year!

I can’t criticize.  I’m just as bad as Andy and Colin.  I hoard baby toys and clothes because what if we have another child?  I could have a boy or a girl so I have to keep, well, everything.  “Be prepared,” the Boy Scouts say.

I talked to a woman recently who said she never keeps baby clothes.  “It’s better to share with other people,” she said.  “I’ll just buy new ones.”

She’s right, obviously, and a much better candidate for sainthood than I am.  But sainthood won’t keep my nonexistent baby warm in the winter.

Annabelle is an example to all of us.  When we’re cleaning out her room, if she doesn’t play with something, she chucks it into the donation pile without a second thought.  During our last purge, she tossed in her My Little Ponies that she used to love.  That was hard for me.

“Are you sure you want to donate these?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, totally unconcerned.

That was when Colin pawed through her donation pile.  The poor kid was appalled.  “You can’t give away this!  Or this!”  It didn’t take him long to convince her she really wanted those My Little Ponies.  But she’s also started playing with them again.  So that was a confusing lesson for all of us.

Then there are those times (rare!  Very rare!) when the kids are looking for an item that I already purged.

“I think you got rid of that,” I told Colin when it happened recently.

“I don’t think I wanted to get rid of it,” he said.

I walked away quietly then because, um, that was probably true.  I might have helped him get rid of it.  But we wouldn’t donate anything if it were up to that kid, or my husband, or me.  Thank goodness for Annabelle, who tries to keep the house in order.  We should definitely always listen to her—unless she tries to donate her My Little Ponies that she hasn’t played with for a year.  Obviously that kind of crazy has to be reined in.


About Kirstin

I’m the mother of three: a son who talks (and talks and talks) about cars, a daughter who talks mostly about the color purple (not the Alice Walker novel), and a baby who makes sure he is heard. I also have a husband who has a lot to say about robots. And a dog who barks a lot. There wasn’t a lot of talking space left for me, so I started this blog. I also run the Benicia Tutoring Center:
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4 Responses to To Keep or Not to Keep

  1. Kris McDonald says:

    Is Annabelle still wearing her dress? Definitely not something to donate in her eyes.
    Thank you for including me in your posts. I enjoy hearing about you and your family.

    Aunt Kris

  2. Sally Odegaard says:

    I confess to being a dyed-in-the-wool giver-awayer; however, I do miss those turquoise and yellow horizontal striped bell-bottoms. I know they were a size 5, but I could be a size 5 again. All I need is for The Rock to come to my house and force me to do Marine Corps exercises 5 times a week. Those britches were–after all–me.

    Loved the piece. Keep ’em coming.

    Auntie Sally

  3. Kirstin says:

    You are good at giving away! You’ll be totally unprepared for the Rock’s surprise visit now, but you do have a clean house. Hard to weigh those pros and cons sometimes.

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