Festive or Fetid?

I really hate cleaning out closets. Not the coat closet that gets used all the time, or the one I share with my husband. The one in the basement, or the spare room. The one that accumulates all kinds of stuff that you look at and think “maybe someday.”

Maybe someday what, exactly?

I’m ditching enough holiday sweaters to outfit an army of Grandmas. Halloween and Christmas, bedazzled sweater vests, bells, sequins, doodads, pompoms, rickrack and enough shiny gold buttons to vaporize the moon. Turtlenecks covered in holly berries or stylized bats. Lots of primary colors. Nothing subtle about these articles of clothing. They scream “It’s a holiday, God damn it!” Worse, they make me feel matronly. Solid. Old. Like I don’t have enough personality of my own, so I need to let the clothes do my talking for me.

Clinton Kelly, of What Not to Wear fame, would be so proud of me. He’d be happier if I got rid of all my crocks, but that’s a post for a different day.

What else did I unearth? Two full sets of dishes. One is stoneware, which I abandoned when Thing One came along because the pieces break too easily. Of course, they broke because I was sleep deprived and missed the counter and dropped a few pieces on the floor. But Corelle, which I rebelled against for so long, seemed like a safer bet. You have to work to shatter those puppies. Goodwill, here they come.

The second set is gorgeous, and I can’t bring myself to part with it despite the fact that I have NEVER used it. Very old-fashioned, early 70s dinerware, with a white and blue pattern that looks like clouds on a sky. I was living the single life when I bought them, and I envisioned having a place all my own, where I would eat small, precise meals off these dreamy plates. But I went straight from roommate to marriage. I don’t want to eat by myself any longer (unless I’m reading a really good book). The cups aren’t big enough for a proper cup of tea. But I can’t give them up. I envision Thing One or Thing Two moving into an apartment with them some day. Having small, happy, blissfully independent meals on pretty plates her crazy mother bought.

Then there are the miscellaneous bits of china that have been in the family forever, and somehow, at some point, I decided I wanted them so here they are. What the heck am I supposed to do with them? I’m not the sort to display old china. Although I found some of my grandparents’ collection of salt and pepper shakers, which always sat in the glass-fronted china cabinet no matter where Grandma and Grandpa lived. I inherited that china cabinet, too. After it sat in a spare bedroom upstairs at my mother’s house for twenty-some years, I gave it to my sister. She loves it, she’s using it, and I can see it whenever I visit her. Why didn’t I leave her the odd bits and tea-cup/saucer pairs? The salt and pepper shakers, though, I gave them a good dusting and immediately put them on display in our dining room. They make me smile.

Two coats, each approximately 50 years old or more. One was Joe’s Dad’s bridge coat from his days in the Navy. We’ll never get rid of that. The winter I was carrying Thing One was bitterly cold, and that coat was the only thing that would fit around me. And a red wool coat, trimmed with black, that my Aunt Mary (yes, the one I was named for) gave my older sister when she was a tot. It’s been handed around the family for a long time, damn thing still looks brand new. I’ll keep that, too, until someone (not me!) has a toddler again.

What else? Two of my mother’s housecoats–a long, blue one, and short cotton floral one. My mother first visited me in Colorado around 1995. The second visit was 1997. She isn’t going to visit again, since she’s 82 and doesn’t like to be more than an hour away from her house, much less fly across the country. It makes me sad, that she wouldn’t visit more often when she was able to. So why keep the bathrobes hanging there, taunting me, making me feel bad? No reason at all, other than I like to flog myself with guilt periodically. I hope whoever their new owners are appreciate them and wear them in good health.

My wedding dress. Keeping that. Two quilts my great-grandmother made. Keeping those.

More plastic eyeballs than any sane person needs. Other people stock up on canned good, but not me. If you need bouncy plastic ping-pong balls painted to look like eyeballs, I’m you’re woman. And while I can’t see any good reason to keep them, I know I’m not going to get rid of them, either. You never know when a dozen eyeballs will come in handy.

Maybe. Some day.



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2 responses to “Festive or Fetid?

  1. Sharon

    I’m ahead of you, MB. I had two sets of Corelle packed away, having replaced them when my nest emptied. I gave one set to my sister (who has the exact same set, by chance?). The other one I can’t bear to part with yet, even though the floral pattern does not seem to fit either of my sons. A daughter-in-law, perhaps? And although I have various and sundry Halloween costumes and decorations in my basement closet, I do NOT have any eyeballs lurking about! I have to wonder, though, what did you find that you had no (hi)story for? What objects led you to ask, “Where did this come from? I swear I’ve never seen it before!” Inquiring minds want to know…

  2. Janet

    Next time you are home would you come clean my closets?

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