Spring Cleaning
Through My Eyes - Marilyn LaCourt - CNI News - January 2003

It's not too soon to start spring-cleaning.

There's the basement, the garage, and the attic, but that's too much to deal with all at once. Let's start with something small, like say closets.

There are lots of different strategies for accomplishing the task. Unlike Fibber McGee we can't put the dreaded deed off forever.

Most of us are too young to remember Fibber McGee and Mollie and the rest of us probably wouldn't admit to being that old. I'm something of a fan of old radio shows. My mother had a series of shows from the 30's and 40's on cassette tapes I used to listen to them on my car cassette player. Fibber McGee's front hall closet was a disaster that emptied its contents with a crash to the floor every time Fibber opened the door. Then there was a pause and some canned laughter. Fibber's solution to the closet problem was to jam pack everything back in and close the door quickly. Then he'd mutter something like; "I gotta get at that closet one of these days." The closet thing happened in just about every episode of the show. My mom told me she used to try to predict when, in the show, Fibber was going to open the dreaded closet door.

When the lady from Purple Heart calls to set a pick up date George carefully makes note on the calendar. His intentions are honorable and he sets about the task immediately. George likes to mull over every piece of clothing for a while before deciding.

  1. Should he keep those pants with the hole in the knee?
  2. Should he ask his wife to patch the hole?
  3. Should he cut them up for rags?
  4. Should he put them in the Purple Heart box?
  5. Should he dump them in the trash?

After an hour or so of sorting, George carefully folds everything and puts it back in its place in his bureau.

George's wife, Joan, has noticed the note on the calendar. She goes through her things in a flash. Anything she hasn't worn for a year or more goes into the box. Sometimes, when she can't find a sweater that used to be a favorite, Joan regrets having acted so hastily.

Jean vowed she'd do a thorough job this time. She'd take a full afternoon and concentrate on just the one thing. She woke up in a panic however, when she realized today was the day they were coming. She quickly grabbed a few things, threw them in a bag and put the bag at the front door. No way was she going to be embarrassed when that truck arrived and the driver discovered that she'd let them down, again.

Delores puts things into categories according to their value, and to whom she should pass them on. She has several boxes labeled with various people's names. All the good stuff gets saved for people who essentially don't need it, or want it. The stuff nobody wants goes into the box for the needy. In Delores' case, charity begins at home and ends there.

John sorts according to size. He would like to give his fat pants away, but he knows the day will come when he will need them again. He can't stay on a diet forever. He looks longingly at the pants that are still too small.

Karl and Kathy, a retired couple with time on their hands, use closet cleaning day to creatively evaluate their relationship. Many items of clothing have their own unique history. Those things with good memories attached get to stay regardless of how old, worn, or outgrown they are. The ones with bad memories get pitched. The ones with no particular memories at all get to hang around until they establish a reputation.

Jeanie is fourteen. She never cleans her bureau. Mom snatches the outgrown stuff and sends those items to her sister who has younger children.

Some smart people work on the exchange program. They never let the situation get out of hand in the first place. Each time a new item is acquired, they transfer one old item to the box that sits in the front hall closet. When the box is full, it goes to a charitable organization.

What's your strategy for cleaning closets?

—M. LaCourt

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