Tuesday, January 6, 2009


No matter what my family says, I’m not a “hoarder.” They tried to hold an intervention for me the other day, but there was so much stuff everywhere, they couldn’t find a place to sit.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration (I don’t want to get in trouble with Oprah, but whatever happened to “literary license?”). I’m trying to make a point here.

I confess. I save things that I know I’ll find a use for in the next decade or so. But every year, during that Dead Week between Christmas and New Year’s, instead of shopping the sales for more junk, I declutter.

Okay, another lie. Frankly, I can’t afford to buy anything after maxing out the Visa on Christmas gifts. So what if the iPhone I paid full price for is now on sale at Wal-Mart—at a two-dollar savings! What does it matter that Mervyns is selling clothes at 95% off? There’s only one size left—and it’s not mine, after eating all those Christmas cookies. I suppose we could re-fi, now that the mortgage rates are half-price, but we did that last week when the rates had plummeted an eighth of a percent.

So I spend “Shopping Week” decluttering. First I deChristmas the house, which involves deornamenting the “Crispy Tree” (great term that I plagiarized from another writer—which might just get me on Oprah!). Once that’s done, I discover the rest of the house is still riddled with clutter that was once covered by fake garlands, talking Santas, and sparkling lights.

Although there is clutter from the back bathroom (mismatched nautical-themed soaps) to the front room fireplace (decorative candle holder with six never-used candles), my two biggest projects are my “office” and the “guest” bedroom. My office is mainly a catchall for anything that I can’t part with but can’t find a place for. It’s so full of crap, I can’t even locate the office supplies. And the kids now refer to the “guest bedroom” as “the cat room.” The bedspread looks as if it’s made from feline fur. Seriously.

My biggest challenge is decluttering all the books I’ve never read and never will. Once I’ve cleared out the bookshelves, I fill them with all new books that have been stacked on the piano and mantel for the past six months. More books I’ll never read.

Next I sort through out all my old craft supplies—things like crayons (remember those?), pipe cleaners (how many can one household really use?), and pompoms (you never know when you’ll have a craft emergency.) As soon as that’s done, I refill the space with my collection of scrapbooking supplies. You can never have too many sparkly stickers, pinking scissors, and pads of cat-themed paper.

Once I find the guest bed that’s buried under toy cars and trucks, Candyland and Chutes and Ladders games, and dinosaur picture books, I think about getting rid of the bed itself so I have room for more clutter. But the cats fight me for it (that one’s almost true), so I toss out the portacrib (filled with stuffed animals), costume box (mostly fireman hats), the old Halloween candy (forgot where I put it).

When I’m finally finished, the house looks exactly the same, except for the missing Christmas decorations. But they’ll soon be replaced with New Year’s décor, Valentine’s Day stuff, and Easter trimmings—all covering up the new clutter that’s accumulated just since Dead Week.

And I’ll swear everything in this column is true, if I ever get on Oprah.


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