Christmas was going far too well.
Stresses had been kept to a minimum. There was no huge expectation about mountains of food or hundreds of visitors, and presents had been kept to let’s say ‘non-gargantuan’ proportions.
We’d agreed on almost everything. Presents were wrapped. Nobody had fallen out. Nothing had transpired to upset the status quo. No one had flounced off to their bedroom.
Then it happened.
“Which table mats shall we use,” Dave had asked ever so sweetly as he prepared to lay the Christmas table.
“Oh thank you for doing that! You choose. Something Christmas looking. You know where they are.”
Well that was silly of me.
I carried on peeling potatoes, then heard a fair amount of scuffling. There were audible, theatrical, big sighs, and finally I saw a whole heap of linen mats, table napkins and wooden mats on the floor in the sitting room.
Oh crap! Did we really have so many?
“These can be chucked out for a start!” Dave said as he dumped on the table a set of dusky pink, matching linen napkins and table settings.
“But we were given those for our wedding,” I bleated, “By Maggie, your Mum’s old friend. She made them for us, remember! Painstakingly.”
“That was over 26 years ago. They’ve done their turn.”
“No, they are perfectly acceptable still.”
I may have sounded like my grandmother.
“We haven’t used them in years.” Dave spoke the truth.
“No but we might.”
“Oh for heaven’s sake Jo, look they’re all frayed around the edges, they’ve gone bobbly, and they’ve faded.” He was right.
“I don’t want to get rid of them,” I said through tight lips. “The children might like them.”
“No they won’t they’ll never use them. They’ll buy new ones.”
“Well they should learn to make do, not spend willy- nilly, treasure old memories. What about that programme we watched about first world waste being dumped in Ghana? Horrible! All those little kids sifting through the detritus of the Western World’s computer age waste, getting exposed to horrible chemicals and cancer. We shouldn’t just chuck things out. We should set an example, ” I bleated.
“These are not techno waste. They are linen. Come to think about it, you could use them as rags.”
“Rags! How could you!”
“Oh all right then you win. We’ll treasure these old memories. We’ll use them on the Christmas dinner table.”
“No, better we use the Christmassy red and green ones we got in The Philippines.”
“There! See! We’re never going to use these pink ones again.”
At some stage I think I was called greedy and a hoarder. I may have uttered the words slash and burn.
Whatever, it was a nasty moment. Pink things sort of flew past through the air in an untidy fashion towards the bin. There was the sound of laughter. I considered (for half a moment) recycling them as newly fashioned dish cloths or rags. I knew Dave was right, but I was not going to admit it – not yet.
At length, and before the turkey bits were dumped, I retrieved the mats from the bin, folded them neatly, and they are now in the holding cupboard, pending a trip to Salvos.
I wonder if I’ll steel myself to do it this week … or maybe next … or not at all?
Hmm, think I’m probably storing (ahem) a little more than is strictly necessary and need to give myself a stern talking too!
So I’ve compiled a list of tips that are really directed at me, Jo Castro, but I hope you’ll find them useful too.
Tips on how not to hoard
- After each load of washing comes out of the machine take a good hard look at each piece of clothing. Decide if it still flatters you. If it’s not useful, or if it doesn’t really suit you anymore then put it on the Salvos pile.
- Go through your wardrobe and make sure that you have worn each piece of clothing in the last year. If you haven’t, then ask yourself if you will. I think if it’s a special occasion piece or a staple item only used for certain events then perhaps it should be kept, but if you’re keeping something purely for sentimental reasons, why not take a photograph of it, then give it to Salvos?
- Fold, hang or put your clothes away neatly so that you can find things that match easily. If you’re like me, I’m always trying to find that one thing which I know goes well with something and after much searching I find I’ve hung it with something I haven’t worn in ages.
Linen, soft furnishings etc
- Go through your linen cupboard. Match sheets, duvet covers and pillow cases into sets. Store them neatly. Any you don’t use regularly give to the kids, or give to a charity shop.
- Soft furnishings. If like me you’ve collected wooden or linen place settings from trips overseas, or stored various cushions and cushion covers from various markets, or put old towels in the cupboard for when the grandchildren arrive – then stop right there! Decide which you’ll use on a day to day basis, put one or two aside for best and give the rest away.
No Jo, the children probably don’t want them!
In the bathroom
- Don’t you find that when people don’t know what to give you they’re likely to gift body lotion or shower gels? Decide which you’ll use, and decide on those that you might be keeping for a ‘might use one day’ scenario.
- Store unused body lotions and nice smellies that you intend to use in a box, not on the bathroom counter, or rather better still, make someone happy … gift those superfluous beauty products.
- Get rid of any old, disgusting looking or nearly used products – like almost finished lipsticks Jo, that you’ve had for (gulp) 10 years or so.
Are you a collector of sentimental items like your children’s reports and their Year 1 works of art. (Guilty!)What about magazines, old letters and cards too? (Oh dear Yes!) Go through them and save a few, but toss the rest. If they are really important to you why not photograph individual items and store them digitally? (Exactly Jo!)
What I’ve learnt from 11 international moves
It’s taken me a long time to realize this, but now we have a loft I know it’s true.
We stored a whole lot of things in boxes when we moved from a larger house into our current house in Australia, because we didn’t want our rooms to be too cluttered. They were things that were either replicated, or items that I didn’t use too much, or they were mementos.
As I shut the loft door I felt as if I’d left a limb up there. Crikey – how would I ever do without them?
But you know what? After a few weeks I didn’t even miss them. And if I go up to the loft now I have a hard job remembering what’s in each box.
So Jo. Time to toss, don’t you think?
Have you got any tips on how not to hoard? Or are you a hoarder with no hope? Please do tell.
Until next time,