When you've spent an entire wintry season nesting, (i.e. staring at the same four walls since the first massive snowfall), you start to notice certain things about your lifestyle.
"You" being "me." And "lifestyle" being "the increasingly unlivable habit of keeping things that you never intend to use."
I call these items "Guilt Gifts" and "Special Occasions." The guilt gifts are things that you completely, utterly hate. You're never going to wear that 2XL tee shirt with the unironic kitten, and that crystal bowl shaped like a pineapple - while unique - doesn't really embody your vision for a dining room. But you love the people who gifted this stuff to you and to get rid of it seems like the equivalent of telling them how much you dislike their cooking. (I mean, someday these people are gonna be dead and gone - and someday you'll be dead and gone. Is this really how we want to leave things?)
The special occasion possessions are things that, for some reason or another, you've deemed too nice for your plain ol' day-to-day usage. For example, I have a pomegranate body scrub which my sister gifted me for Christmas. Two years ago. It's not that I don't want to use it; it's just that I've inexplicably shelved it for "really nice showers." (Which, for the record, is not a thing at all.) I also have a candle that I like the scent of so much I've decided to store it in the back of the closet. (Where I'll never be tempted to waste it.)
I realize that this is a problem. You - meaning I - cannot live this way. Opening a drawer full of Guilt Clothing does not fill me with the warm, fuzzy joy of being loved by the gift-giver. In fact, it fills me with the dread of Why Can't I Actually Wear Anything In My Wardrobe? (Followed up by Oh Yes, It's Because All The Real Estate Is Being Taken Up By A Cardigan That Even The Big Lebowski Would Find A Bit Roomy.) But here's the God's honest truth: no one who loves you enough to give you a gift wants you to feel burdened by it. (Yes. Even that one person you're thinking of.) So I've decided to pare stuff down, taking an inventory of things I really don't like and then getting rid of them.
I understand how inanely simple this sounds to the non-hoarder.
And things which are really hard to donate? I've started taking pictures of them, then tossing them into the bin. (I can hear you now: What the heck are you going to do with a picture of a thing you hate? Baby steps, friends.)
As for the special occasion stuff, that's even easier: I'm going to use them all. Immediately. Every last fancy thing.
Since we can't exactly take charge of the snow and ice piling outside our doors, why not take this opportunity to de-clutter our closets, cabinets and, uh, bathrooms? If you need me, I'll be taking a pomegranate bath, burning the fancy candle and drinking tea out of the way-too expensive china.
On second thought, please don't need me. This de-cluttering thing sounds downright amazing.
Keely Flynn is a Chicago playwright, freelance writer, and blogger living with three young children, an extraordinarily tolerant husband, and two cats who just try to make it through the day without being ridden like ponies. Check out her personal blog, lollygagblog.com.
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