1.17.2013

Gifts of Christmas Past

When the calendar flips from December of one year to January of another, some little switch goes off in my head and I feel the incredible urge to purge. Perhaps it's the influx of gifts that make me feel like I need to make room (note: next year, my family is drawing names - maybe that will help), or it could be the multiple episodes of Hoarders that I watched just prior to Christmas. Either way - I was bitten by the purge bug.

Hello William Morris - good to see you (and Jules) again.


A few years back, I put a mandoline vegetable slicer and a fry cutter on my Christmas wish list. Peter, being the wonderful gift giver that he is, obliged, and I was thrilled when I unwrapped both. We tried to use them. I promptly sliced and diced my finger on the mandoline (Hey, guess what? They include that safety holder thing for a reason!), while Peter scooted around the kitchen with the fry slicer that was supposed to suction cup itself to the counter. After trying both tools 3-4 times (and becoming increasingly frustrated with the clean-up), they soon found a home on the top shelf of a cabinet, right next to the pasta maker.

A couple of weeks ago, while Peter was engaged with Project 312, I busied myself with ruthlessly purging the kitchen cabinets and pantry shelves. When I arrived at the top shelf (the one that I have to stand on the kitchen counter to reach), I was faced with both the mandoline and the fry slicer. I almost climbed down and closed the door...until Peter came in. Our conversation went something like this...

Him: What are you doing?
Me: Cleaning out.
Him: What are you getting rid of?
Me: I was thinking about the slicer and the fry thing. We never use them, but I feel guilty.
Him: Why?
Me: Well, they were gifts from Christmas past. I feel guilty that I asked for them, but now want to toss them.
Him: Why? We don't use them. We don't like them. Clear out Christmas past to make way for gifts of Christmas future!
Me: Really? But you gave them to me.
Him: But we don't use them, we use knives. And we could use the space for our cookbooks.

Ah, I love the voice of reason. And so down they came and out they went. I found a friend who wanted to try the fry slicer, and the mandoline went to the thrift store. I briefly considered listing them on Amazon or eBay (after all, I sold the pasta maker last year), but when I looked them up, they weren't selling for enough to make it worth my time. Time that could be better spent writing this blog post, as a reminder to my future self: Don't let stupid guilt clutter up your cabinets life. 

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What are YOU holding on to because of guilt?
Are you saving clutter that the giver has already forgotten about?


14 comments:

  1. Ah, the voice of reason. Go Peter! Congrats on making space for your cook books -- I just seem to keep finding things to purge at our place, even though it seems like we've gotten rid of so much already. One day, maybe we'll just be left with furniture and all our personal stuff with fit in a suitcase. ;)

    Also very nice at rationalizing the effort of putting something online to sell it. So much hassle to deal with people on ebay and craigslist these days. I've said that if you can't sell it for more than $20, it's probably not worth your time. The cost is sunk already so you're not doing yourself any favors by stressing over writing up the listings and then feeling guilty for not getting around to it!

    Glad to see you back doing WM -- and love the new header. Feels like ages since I was last on your blog. Man have things been busy lately!

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    1. Thanks, Tiffany! Good to hear from you. I have been so bad about not stopping by blogs, so don't feel ignored (everyone is getting ignored by me at the moment - even Busy Nothings!). :) Hope you had a great Christmas and that your New Year is off to a good start.

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  2. Good advice, Peter!

    I got married almost 5 years ago. We accumulated a lot of random stuff that we didn't really need/have any use for. But we felt badly getting rid of these things since they were wedding gifts from people we cared about. They ended up boxed and in our garage. A friend was having a garage sale a few months ago and offered to sell any of my stuff. It prompted me to go through all those old boxes. Since I hadn't seen most of the stuff since we'd sealed it away, it was really easy to realize that we didn't use it. I was a little embarrassed by how much stuff we ended up contributing to our friend's garage sale...

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    1. I think I can count on two hands the items that we still have from all of our wedding gifts almost 13 years ago. Many's the time that I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger (dumber) self, "register for this - you'll want it, but skip that - you'll never use it". ;)

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  3. Way to go! I got that urge this past fall. Been systematically working through our house... we've only been here 5 years, and I can't believe how much stuff we've accumulated. And quite a bit is worth getting rid of! If only I had the gumption to do a yard sale, I'd probably make a few hundred bucks off it all!

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    1. Yard sales are a thing of the past for me. My sister-in-law and I swore last summer that we would never do another one. We always have a ton of stuff, and rarely bring in more than $100 (usually less). I have never once had a successful yard sale, so I'd rather save my time and donate my stuff. :)

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  4. Love this post! I'm inspired to send the box I've been keeping "to sell on CL someday" to Goodwill and be done with it. Sometimes it's just not worth all of the effort :)

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    1. Yes, Ashley, YES!! It was so freeing when I got to that point!

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  5. Funny how we can declutter some things so easily, but others...
    ...and it's almost always emotional:
    1. I wanted one of those for so long.
    2. _____ gave it to me.
    3. It's worth a lot of $$.
    And on and on.

    Good for you -- and your husband!

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    1. So true, Lori! It's getting easier, though. Much easier (thanks in part to the hubby's complete lack of emotional attachment to 99% of our stuff). :)

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  6. Ahhh sounds very cathartic. Wise advice from your hubby.

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  7. This was a hard lesson for me to learn, but so freeing once I did! I think of it now as outgrowing things. Those gadgets fit who you were back then, but not so much now. Clearing out space will give you room to grow in new ways.

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There are more than 400,000 words in the English language. My only request of you is this: Use them wisely.

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