Christmas is an excellent holiday for children. But we adults need our own holiday – one that is something like the opposite of Christmas. Let’s call it National Discard Day. It could be in June, just for symmetry. The concept for this holiday is that each of your friends and loved ones gets to decide which of your current possessions you have to get rid of. It’s like reverse gift-giving.
In December, people say “Happy holidays!” and “Happy New Year!” In June, around National Discard Day, you might hear something more along the lines of “Lose the Crocs, dipshit. You’re not Woody Harrelson.” National Discard Day would be cruel but practical.
I came upon this idea after hearing stories of old people’s houses that are cluttered beyond all reason. The elderly often have three of everything. I always assumed that the packrat impulse comes from growing up during the Depression. There’s no point in giving away something that you might need to barter for food.
I was thankful that I’m not like that. Then one day I noticed that we have three vacuum cleaners in the garage. One is lightweight, and good for quick jobs, but it has no hose attachment. The other is useless except for the hose attachment. We need both of those vacuum cleaners, obviously. The third vacuum cleaner is the “good” one that does everything well, but it is literally too complicated to operate. It’s like the bastard son of Iron Man and Optimus Prime. I can’t tell if I’m preparing to use the hose attachment or giving it a goddamn happy ending.
Topping it off, our new home has a whole house vacuum system. You just plug a hose into the wall and go. And not long ago I owned a Shop-Vac, until it lost a cage fight with me in the garage, may it rest in pieces. I’ll probably get a new one for Christmas. If you’re keeping count, we will soon have something like 5.5 vacuum cleaning systems, assuming the Dust Buster counts as a half.
Apparently The Great Depression isn’t the cause of hoarding. There is always some perfectly good “reason” for keeping stuff. For example, you can’t throw away an old chair because someday you might need it for a party. You can’t throw away an ugly knickknack because it was a gift. You can’t throw away your stained sweatshirt because nothing else is quite as comfortable.
That’s where National Discard Day comes in. You need the help of other people to make the hard decisions for you. In a perfect world, once your home reaches some point of possession saturation, one item must be discarded for every item that enters. No exceptions. If you disagree, I label you a hoarder.
In my case, our loved ones would presumably force us to get rid of our Dust Buster and our two semi-crippled vacuum cleaners. The only downside is that trying to figure out how to use the “good” vacuum cleaner looks a lot like porn for gay robots. But I can live with that.
I discovered a contributing factor in the clutter problem when I visited my old home town of Windham New York. At the local dump, a sign said it costs $7.50 for any “appliance” that you discard. That includes anything from a toaster to an old bed frame. For that price, and in this economy, it makes more sense to move a broken appliance out to the porch and just leave it there. Better yet, use duct tape to strap your half-broken toaster to your new one and be the first person in town with a three-slicer. My point is that Windham’s dump fees are not helping to beautify the town.
Who’s with me on National Discard Day? I think it could be big.