Season brings a fresh look at all the ‘stuff’ I have accumulated
Hinsdale 11/20/07 Western Springs Columnist: Vicki Gonia Doings photo by Steve Johnston
Updated: January 3, 2012 8:10AM
I’ve just recently realized that every year, like clockwork around this time, I start feeling really hemmed in by excess stuff. It could be because now the house is closed off from the elements, or that it’s getting dark earlier and light later, or because I’m thinking about all the stuff I’m going to have to buy over the coming weeks, and that means there will also be stuff that I will get, and I have no idea where I’m going to put it all.
It could also mean that I just have too much stuff.
I spent a great deal of time over the weekend after Thanksgiving cleaning out my closet, and noticed an odd pattern in the items that I was removing from hangers and sticking into a bag to give away. Actually, I noticed a lot of odd patterns. And by that, I mean I own a lot of really ugly shirts. And ugly dresses. Things I don’t really remember buying and can’t believe I did buy or ever considered wearing. And more pairs of black pants than I care to admit to owning. Summer weight, winter weight, wide-leg, tapered-leg, cropped, capri-length, sure (though, the necessity of owning one of each is certainly debatable). But I sure don’t need to own more than one pair of each of those styles. Turns out I do. Or did.
I probably just didn’t realize I already owned a pair of identical black pants when I bought a new pair, because the first pair was hidden behind all of the ugly shirts. And I don’t want to even think about what this says about my fashion sense, which apparently abides by the theory that if everything I own is black, then everything matches.
It’s not just the excess clothes, though. The fact is, I own a lot of other stuff that I just don’t need.
I can’t stand watching those reality television shows about people who hoard stuff. Not just because some of their “hoards” (as their messes are termed) are just so incredibly disgusting, but because there’s a little voice in the back of my head that starts talking to me when I watch. The conversation goes a little something like this:
“That’s totally you,” says the voice.
“Is not!” I say.
“Really? Then why do you still own the stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh bear that Santa tucked under your covers the Christmas you were 4?”
“Because it’s special! Santa came all the way upstairs to give it to me! I can’t just throw it away!”
“It’s almost 40 years old. Nobody needs a 40-year-old stuffed animal,” says the voice, not unkindly, but a little condescendingly.
I grow silent, but the voice continues. “What about all that stuff taking up half of your laundry room?”
“That’s just stuff I haven’t unpacked from when I moved!” I cry.
“You moved here nearly two and a half years ago,” says the voice. “If all that stuff died in a fire, you wouldn’t miss it.”
And when I respond by saying “There is some really important stuff in there that I might need someday,” I know that I’ve just uttered something one of the hoarders on television said earlier in the show. Only they may have been talking about things currently stored under bags of their own excrement, so I still feel like I’ve won this argument.
But the voice is right. I have too much stuff. I mean, do I really need to store, for nearly a year now, four souvenir “Epic Showdown” beer cups from the last Bears vs. Green Bay playoff game in January on the top shelf of one of my kitchen cabinets, so that if the Bears somehow make it to the playoffs again and play Green Bay again, myself and three other people can use the cups in some sort of beer ritual meant to cleanse the Chicago Bears of all bad mojo? Well, um, actually, I probably do need to do that. Every little bit helps. But I promise I’ll throw them away next Super Bowl Sunday. I promise.
Besides, I’ll need to make room for this year’s Epic Showdown cups!
This might sound like I’m about to wage a war on Christmas, but it’s really a war on stuff. When we hear stories about people pepper spraying others who are in line to get stuff on sale, or stores so crammed with people trying to get more stuff that the store has to close, I think maybe we, in general, might have too much stuff. It can’t just be me.
This year, I’m asking Santa for a visit from a professional organizer and some storage shelves.
The Western Springs Business Association Christmas Walk, which includes the concluding ceremonies of the 125th village anniversary, takes place from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday. Laser light show, people. And tree lighting and Santa and singing and carriage rides and all kinds of good stuff on offer from businesses in town.
Readers can contact Viki Gonia by leaving a message at (708) 824-8027 or e-sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.