Sunday, January 1, 2012

Stuff it.

I spent this weekend trying to fit all my daughter's new Christmas clothes and books into our existing shoe-box's worth of space.  I pulled out several things from her dresser and closet for the Red Cross pick up, and then turned to my own.  I was able to part with notably less of my stuff than hers, but I'm sure if I had set someone else to the task they'd be a little less conservative about what could go and what needed to stay.

Then I spent some time thinking about my stuff.  I have a lot of it. None of it is particularly valuable; not in actual dollars, anyway.  But every year there is more of it.  Who am I kidding? Every week there is more of it.  If I have 2 hours to kill, I'm likely to spend them at Target or Marshall's, culling for some unpredictable but wonderful bargain.

In truth, my house is beyond full. I can barely find places for all the stuff we have.  Last week I visited my brother and sister-in-law in their first house, and marvelled at the empty closets and drawers.  Did I say marvelled?  I meant seethed with envy.  "Imagine what I could store in here!" was more the sound of it inside my head.  They had a huge Harry-Potter-esque under-stairs closet.  Actually, Harry would have been envious; this one went around a corner.  But the reality of things is this: we have the house we can afford, in the neighborhood we want.  It's not getting any bigger, and I don't even have stairs under which to wish there were a closet of any size.

So I started thinking about the plausibility of having a negative growth year, in terms of stuff. Would it be possible to get rid of more stuff than I buy this year?  Probably not. But maybe I could conduct an acquisition-neutral experiment.  Buy nothing that is not meant to replace something worn out.  That would mean no shoes, unless I could toss pair that is too worn to be seen in public anymore.  No socks, unless I've had to discard a pair already.  No kitchenware that isn't a replacement for a broken item.  That's right: no new glasses or cookware.  Well, no additional glasses or cookware, anyway.  

I'm not sure I can commit to a whole year of that, so I'm shooting for three months.  There will be some exceptions to the acquisition-neutral rules, I think.  Books, for instance.  Hannah is now reading her own short chapter books, and, although we regularly visit the library, I expect that we will, from time to time, buy her a book.  Also, we have planned a camping trip for our summer vacation, and have important holes in our camping gear collection, most notably, cookware.  That's where I may be able to cheat on the no-new-kitchenware rule a bit.  But in terms of clothing, shoes, and general home furnishings, I'm going to put a three-month moratorium on new stuff.  

There: I said it. No new stuff for three months, unless an old piece of stuff breaks.  Let's see how this goes.  If you hear a whimpering sound from somewhere in the vicinity of the Gulf of Mexico, it's probably me, wishing I could buy that pair of Gianni Bini pumps that Dillard's just put on sale for $26.  Sigh.  It's happened before, I have no reason to think it won't happen again this year.  But I won't be the lucky girl wearing those shoes this time.  Unless they go on sale in April...

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