My announcement that we were cleaning out the closets and toy shelves was not met with the enthusiasm one might imagine. Okay, fine. I’m not sure which one of us might imagine that cleaning closets and toy shelves could be done enthusiastically, but I was hoping that someone in my house might be enthusiastic about the task.
“Just think,” I tried to muster up some excitement, “Soon your closets and shelves will be ready for all the new things that you’ll get over the holidays.”
“We like new things, but we like old things just as well,” muttered my older daughter.
“I’m not getting rid of any of my Elephant and Piggy books,” whined my younger daughter.
“Nothing will ever replace my favorite shirt,” complained my third child, also known as my husband.
In an effort to lead by example, I started with my own cleaning spree. I stepped into my closet with a box of empty garbage sacks and an upbeat playlist on my phone. (In case you were wondering, and I know you were, I was listening to Christmas music. Don’t judge.)
I emerged an hour and a half later with four full bags and a desire to wear nothing but black yoga pants for the rest of my life.
“See?” I announced to my family as I wandered into the living room with my bags slung over my back, like a jolly ol’ elf who wears only one outfit and one outfit only. “It’s totally easy!”
My older daughter commented that she liked all of her stuff and didn’t feel the need to get rid of any of it.
My younger daughter forced tears and said, “You can take whatever clothes you want, just leave my Barbies and my stuffed animals.”
My third child who masquerades as a 42-year-old man was wearing his favorite shirt and cutting his eyes at me.
We are a compassionate and caring family (on most days), and I made an appeal for them to open their hearts and their closets.
“Imagine being a child who hasn’t gotten a new outfit in a very long time,” I started, “and your shirt or leggings that you never wear anymore but is still in good shape are the very things they need to wear a new, cute outfit to school. Or to an upcoming Christmas party. Or just on a weekend hanging out with friends. Wouldn’t you want to make that child happy?”
I knew I had chinked the armor a little bit when my older daughter shrugged her shoulders, and my younger daughter began lining up her stuffed animals and sizing them up.
I explained how this was the perfect time of year for us to cleanse our life of the things that are no longer needed or wanted. I spoke of how we should purge our lives and our homes of the things we will no longer use and to bless someone else with those things. We could clean out not only our closets and our shelves, but our pantries as well. If we were to clean with the intention of giving then surely the cleaning would be heart-warming and beneficial, right? Plus, I reiterated because they are little, imperfect human beings, they’d be making room for the new that would surely be headed their way as the holidays descended upon us.
They weren’t quite convinced that I hadn’t inhaled some toxic dust bunnies while I was in my closet, but they did like the idea of making room for new. I’d also like to believe that they wanted to be helpful and contributing members of society, as well.
My older daughter asked if I’d help her because she didn’t want to try on any of her old clothes, she just wanted to pitch them. I nodded my head in the affirmative.
My younger daughter asked if she could even get rid of her Hello Kitty panties that were so last summer and possibly go get some new animal-print panties instead. I said sure. We packed those panties in a special sack that would not find its way into a new owner’s drawers.
I pressed play on my phone and Jon Bon Jovi began singing “Run, Run Rudolph.” This was just the push my family needed to get started on my massive pre-holiday clean-out and giveaway. The girls were off and dancing to their rooms, each one with a few garbage bags for their donations.
I smiled. My family was catching on and catching the spirit of the season by giving back.
As we left the living room, however, my husband whispered, “No one really wants this shirt.”
He did have a point. No one wanted it. The shirt could stay.
Heather Davis is an Oklahoma momma, a writer and not at all a hoarder. She is the author of the TMI Mom books (available on Amazon). You can reach her through her website www.Minivan-Momma.com or via email at email@example.com