Thursday, December 31, 2009

Boxing Day / Week / Month (or How Long Is it Gonna Take Me to Clear All This Junk Outta Here?)

We started on the clutter removal the day after Christmas- Boxing Day. Ideally, we would have done a big de-cluttering before Christmas to make room for all the new stuff, but we didn't. I lean towards the “better late than never” attitude in life, so rather than lament my delay, I'm getting busy now. We started on the worst room in the house- the one occupied by my 9 year old son. I knew it would be a big job, but my goodness, I really had NO IDEA what I was getting into. I don't think many 9 year old boys are tidy, but in addition to his age and gender, my son is an inventor, a creator and a collector of oddities. He love tape, and very thoroughly attaches the strangest things with it.

When he was younger, he actually asked Santa to bring him “lots and lots of tape- duct tape, packaging tape, electrical tape, regular tape- all kinds of tape.” Santa came through that year, and my kid spent weeks after Christmas taping together assorted household items- my hairbrush had quarters taped to it, action figures had nails and old keys taped to their heads, etc, etc. The fascination with tape has continued, and he also developed a passion for tying knots and taking apart old, broken electrical appliances.

When he first exhibited this curiosity, the inner homeschooling mom in me thought “What a great learning adventure- he can take apart that old broken TV and VCR in the garage, and I'll bet he'll get a lot out of it.” He thought it was great, and I'm sure he learned something, but I made the mistake of telling friends how much my son enjoyed taking things apart and taping together new inventions. Kind hearted folks started bringing us old broken stuff for him to play with. He loved it, but after a while, I didn't.

My husband is also a collector of cr@p (he swears it's all “good stuff and maybe it is, but a lot of it looks like semi- rusty metal parts to me) and you can only put so many things someplace before it starts looking a tad bit trashy. Between the two of them, my yard started looking a little too much like a junk yard for my comfort zone. I started hearing the theme song to Sanford and Son in my head every time I walked out there. I tried arranging some of it at pleasing angles, and telling myself it was artistic “assemblage” which made the “sculptures” hip. If I keep telling myself we aren't hillbillies, then we won't be, right?

Anyway, back to this year- I never imagined it would be easy, but we moved his bed, and oh my- the myriad of weirdness. It was the same in the closet, in the dresser and on his shelves. What makes a person tape together a half dozen bottle caps, a little plastic dog, a screw and the remote control and tie it with a piece of yarn with 14 million knots in it to the bottom rail of a bed? Is this art too? No matter how much I appreciate art, I can only house so much of it, so a major purging was in order.

The little guy was an amazingly good sport about helping with the project, and spent the first couple of hours saying “This is kind of fun!” Where he got that idea, I don't know, but I tried not to squelch it with saying or showing how much I disliked having to do it. He would make different game show noises for items he wanted to keep, give away or trash, and I had to guess them. They were pretty obvious- a little “ding ding” was good, “a loud buzz was a reject- but it did make it slightly more entertaining. Eventually, he lost his enthusiasm due to the physical and mental exhaustion of going through multiple mountains of stuff, but we kept on and on the 2nd day, his room was beautiful. The car was full of donations, and the trash and recycles can were full and we had a backlog while we awaited pickup. What a blessing to have so much stuff leave my life! I celebrated with a glass of sparkling wine.

Next is dear daughter's room. For some reason, after living through my sons room, I initially thought my daughter's would be easy. Once again, my cockiness got the best of me. She is better at making her stuff look more aesthetically pleasing, but there is still a whole lotta weird and random stuff to go through in there too- like neatly folded candy wrappers- that could probably should get out of my house. Then, there's still my room, my studio, the dining room cabinet full of homeschooling stuff, and twenty five million bookshelves crammed in every corner. I can't even bring myself to think about the garage at this point. My little de-cluttering project has gone from Boxing Day to Boxing Week, and may just end up being Boxing Month. It would have been nice to have it all done and all the junk out of here before we ring in the New Year, but that isn't going to happen. Again, better late than never.

I'd love to hear other people's ideas on how they tackle clutter build up. I seem to have a magnet for stuff and then it seems to breed rampantly in my presence. I can use all the help I can get.

I hear kids stirring now, so I know they're up for the day. Another cup of coffee, and I'll be ready to meet my daughter and see what we can clear out of her room. Maybe my kids at least will start the New Year without clutter, even if the whole house can't.

Happy New Year! Hope everyone has safe and festive celebrations.