Eyes on Arlington: A good husband makes sure closet clutter goes to charity

Posted Tuesday, Jan. 07, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Processing all the Christmas decorations as my husband and I dutifully repackaged everything in the latest and greatest organizing containers on the market was a natural segue into confronting any clutter in our house that had accumulated since we last performed this annual rite.

I personally believe the undecorating process after the holidays is what spawned the making of New Year’s resolutions. Well, OK, admittedly the extra pounds we pack on at this time of year may also influence a new resolve in many of us. And getting on that treadmill gives one plenty of think-time to contemplate how to tackle the cleanup and more importantly, on whom to pin the blame for creating messiness.

My smug assumption that it’s not much of a contest in our house met with an unexpected announcement from my husband that this year’s Clutter Crown would go to me instead of him. As we laughed over his little joke, he gently led me to what he calls the “Silent Auction Closet” to view the contents that, I admit, overflow the space.

“This closet,” he said, “is supposed to house all that stuff piled in the guest room, but there’s no space left.” Tactfully refraining from pointing an accusatory finger at me, he asked what I intended to do with the things in the closet.

As I patiently explained that this stuff is part of my job, he picked up a beautiful serving dish and a patio wall clock and asked how they meshed with my job description. He knew good and well that I purchased them at silent auctions at the hundreds of charity events the Star-Telegram sponsored.

He then pulled out a wine rack, one place setting of stoneware, a piece of luggage, a few purses, a bird feeder, a ratchet set, a drill and several board games. Then he sorted through a stack of framed art leaning against the wall with a less-than-happy expression on his face.

I reminded him that my way of helping the charities is by starting the bidding on any item without a bid. OK, so perhaps it doesn’t have a bid because maybe it’s not the prettiest or sexiest among the auction swag. And perhaps there are times that my opening bid turns out to be the only bid; it’s part of my job as the community relations director. His eye-rolling was not amusing.

I think I heard him mumble something about the money spent on things in this closet reducing my paycheck by a big chunk before he pointed out that this was not tax-deductible as a business expense or a charitable donation. As I reminded him of the many auction buys we’ve enjoyed using over the years, his hand-sweeping indication of the merchandise still unused was just plain stubborn.

Such a curmudgeonly attitude was getting us nowhere in our cleaning project. To get things back on track, I reluctantly suggested these things could be moved to our miniwarehouse and the problem would be solved. I think it was downright petty of him to ask, “Which one?” in a not-so-subtle reminder that we are now the proud renters of three remote storage locations.

Ignoring any sarcasm threatening the “whistle while you work” attitude I desired for our work session, I plunged into unloading the closet. As I held up a tote bag with the donor’s logo, I reminded Hubby of the great time we had at the gala where we bought the bag. And remember that party on the river where we got this set of ornate candlesticks and this unique Amish wood tray? Or what about the celebrity roast where we got these two fishing rods and reels?

Getting into the spirit, my thoughtful spouse unwound the fastener on a large file folder to reveal gift certificates for many services and lamented that we had let the time expire on dance lessons, getting our will updated, hosting a wine-tasting for 100 of our closest friends, photography sessions, car lubes and birdwatching parties and said our less-than-pearly whites would have loved the tooth-whitening services we failed to give them. We had a good laugh as we tried to recall which soiree had enabled us to buy each of these great deals.

At the back of the closet sat an almost lifesize stuffed giraffe that we wisely chose not to give our grandchildren to ensure the continued loving relationship with their parents, and we had a good laugh remembering how the other guests at our Star-Telegram-sponsored table at the party begged us not to bid on this item. We were new grandparents when we bought it, and our exuberance exceeded our good sense.

Speaking of good sense, perhaps we had overtasted the complimentary martinis at an arts function when we ended up with the winning bid on a bagel painted blue and mounted on a barren piece of wood. There was a story behind this modern art, but neither of us could recall it.

A box containing a VHS player stacked below a box with one of those huge tube-shaped computer monitors reminded us just how long I have worked at the Star-Telegram. We both remembered (surprisingly) the parties where we got these items and sadly realized one of the charities was no longer in existence.

Box after box containing costume jewelry, purses, blouses and scarves that were not my color or not my style were intended to become gifts for others, but I clearly had forgotten about them when the gift occasion came. All good intentions that were paving the road to … somewhere.

Silence was golden as my smart spouse unearthed a thigh exerciser and a sauna belt without stating the obvious. Changing the subject, I recalled that we had “won” these items at an annual event we attend each January. Nothing was said about the New Year’s resolutions that I claimed justified the expense of these “winning” bids. As I headed off with them in tow, his kindness in not mentioning the graveyard of exercise equipment I have in another spare room did not go unnoticed.

A boxed Blankeeze and a Chia pet kit gave us a good laugh as we recalled bidding on these items with the express purpose of using them for White Elephant parties. I guess this trend died with our age group since we never had a need for the less than mainstream gifts.

As he loaded his SUV, it seemed like my husband was intently listening to my admonition about making this stuff easily accessible in the warehouse so I could quickly retrieve the items I would need for gifts and for our future use. So, I felt like the processing of all this stuff had been handled efficiently as I reloaded the closet with the piles of stuff in the guest room awaiting a more appropriate storage solution.

Hubby was back in a flash and I couldn’t imagine how the inventory could have been handled so quickly. Answering before I posed the question, he placed his finger over his lips in that universal sign for silence, and said the folks at Mission Arlington happily unloaded his truck in record time. And in a startling revelation he said, “Our three warehouses are full, my dear.”

With horrific visions of being the star on an episode of Hoarders, I realized our Silent Auction Closet had come full circle. Purchased for charity and given back to charity was a happy ending.

Here’s my wish that all your New Year’s resolutions to move toward a happier, more organized life will be as rewarding as ours.

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