I am a Pack Rat
I am a Pack Rat
Hello, my name is Judie and I am a pack rat. Okay, I admit it. That is my first step towards recovery. But now what? Am I supposed to figure out what in my past leads me to keep old magazines full of recipes I know I will never cook? Someday, I figured someone will ask me for the recipe and I’ll have just thrown it away. Now we have the internet to look up recipes, so I’ve thrown away the magazines and now I keep my old computers, and power cords, and 5 ¼ floppies for heaven’s sake!

I realized I come by it honestly when we visited my mother for the holidays. Her electric bill was outrageous, so we decided she could do just fine with the two refrigerator freezers in the house and unplugging the two deep freezers and the spare refrigerator she keeps in the shed should save her lots of money. Yes, five cooling appliances were in use. My mother is very organized and fortunately for us, she labeled everything with a date. Prepared foods had expiration dates that had passed years before, but in the freezer they remained. This Virgo-ism of my mother made clearing out the old much easier.

Not so in my case, but who needs to put a date on extra mattress pads, pillows, and sheet sets that fit not a bed in my house? I keep them in case I need them in the future. We have a lot of company and make-shift beds are easy to assemble when you have ample bedding, right? Well, that was my logic. Does it matter that the guest linen closet barely closes because it is busting at the seams with extra blankets, bedspreads, comforters and waffle shaped foam padding?

Thinking about this, I did some research and ran across an article about the Pack Rat Syndrome and answered “yes” to almost every single question. I screamed, realizing that maybe I do have pack rat tendencies, or even worse. So I continued to read. To my amusement, the over abundance of magazines was the example used in the article. “I’m not alone”, I thought. Now I cannot afford to hire a professional organizer, unless my mother is available with her Virgo perfectionism, but then again, how can I discard items she gave to me if she is right there in the room? No, this I will have to conquer on my own, one step at a time.

Much to my relief, further research indicated that I am NOT a hoarder. My house is clean, we constantly entertain in our home, but I’ll admit, there is a lot of “stuff”. It is on every shelf, the mantle, windowsills, the top of the fridge; it is everywhere and appears to be growing.

I truly appreciate the fine collections of invaluable sentiments, like shot glasses, bottle wraps and beer steins we have been saving for all these years. Mementoes from my three children’s school years, trophies and plaques, baby shoes, toys, books, pictures, report cards and ribbons they have won. Can I really fit them nicely into one scrap book each and discard the rest? Will it harm their psyche if the kids believe these things never had any meaning to us at all? Or do I save so many souvenirs of their youth because I grew up in a small trailer and therefore I can… or is it because none of mine were kept? Is it the hard candy Christmas so many of us experienced this year that made me realize what is really important?

When I removed the holiday decorations from our home, I liked the bareness of my counter tops. Our bookshelves had nothing stacked up on top, the mantle was empty and trinkets no longer adorned every nook and cranny in my office. No, these keepsakes, curios and knick-knacks are going into our next yard sale. Out with the extra set of pots and pans, the George Foreman Grille and two extra massagers that are still in their boxes received many holidays ago; they are all on their way out.

I’ll go through the house, tackling one room at a time, continuing to take personal inventory before this continues and our lives become unmanageable. A new year means new beginnings. This year I’m starting with a clean slate and for me that means less clutter. If I find I can’t go it alone, I will seek out a twelve step program.

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