I inherited my pack-rat tendencies from Granny, along with the dusting allergy.
Granny was a product of the Great Depression and feared throwing anything - and I mean anything - away, least she may need it at some vague point in the future.
I may not have been raised during the Great Depression, but I have that same inherent fear that the second I toss something, I will need it.
But my house/cabin/walk-in closet is not big enough to handle a lot of clutter and mess. Nor does it hold enough storage space to hide the mess either.
Cole's room, in particular, is a spot of contention as he inherited that fear of tossing as well.
Several years ago, Lamar made Cole clean his room. My precious progeny had already survived the Nennie Clean of 2009, when Mama came and cleaned his room armed with big black garbage bags and a Swiffer. He didn't speak to her or about her for three whole weeks. Nennie's name was not to be uttered. And there he was, being ordered to clean out his room by his father.
Cole dropped to the floor, in song: "Oh Lord, Jesus, help me Father, I don't know why this man is so mean."
It was even better to hear it as his voice took a deep gospel tone to it, one you would hear emanating from country churches that didn't have cushions on the pews and used handheld fans for air conditioning. It held a poetic tone, as he repeated his verse, wondering why his father was so unfair.
Stuff had been carefully put up, away and some things, like Legos that had been crushed by my boots, tossed. But for everything tossed, my child had to replace so his room was back to packrat proportions.
"We can't even get in there," was Lamar's statement. "There may be a bear in there and we not know it."
A good possibility. I am always thankful when I pull up to the house and a bear is not on the porch, kicking back with a cold one.
Lamar must have eaten his Wheaties that morning, because he dove in, purging our child's room.
"Don't you throw anything away, even if it looks broken; Cole may be saving it to fix and he will know if it's gone," I cautioned.
Lamar didn't agree but knew Cole would not be happy if even the tiniest piece was discarded without his consent.
Hours later, a semblance of order appeared among the plush pigs, Transformers and Lego cities. My child even had a rug on his floor - we had forgotten there was a rug in there - and Cole was thrilled. He still has to organize and sort his toys, but he said he was excited about his father's attempt to regain practical use of square footage.
"Now," Lamar began, surveying my office. "What about your stuff?"
I'm working on it. I am, really. My girlfriend Court (the one famous for telling me if she waited until my house was clean before she came over, she'd never see me) told me about something called "40 bags in 40 days."
Her explanation described how over the course of 40 days, you went through your house and got rid of a total of 40 bags of stuff you didn't need any more. I kind of liked that notion - minus the whole "what if I need it later" fear I have. But I started anyway and in my clutter concentrate spot - my office.
In one day, I had five bags full. They were grocery bags, but were crammed full. Mostly paper - how many receipts for gas did I need to keep?
Even after the bags piled up, there was still a lot of junk in there.
"I can't tell a difference," I said forlornly.
"I can," Lamar said. "You just have a lot of stuff. You need to get rid of some of the bigger stuff you don't use."
I use all my "big stuff," I thought.
The only things I had that were big were my computer and my makeup cases. Those are both pretty dang necessary.
I looked around the whole house, looking for possible things I don't use that would free up needed space.
Yes, I have tons of stuff in the kitchen I don't use. I will though, and you can really never have too many springform pans. What if I had an emergency and needed to make two cheesecakes at once? It has happened before.
My eyes fell on the biggest, ugliest space eater upper I had ever seen and I knew it would be one that the minute I get rid of it, I will say I needed it back: The treadmill.
Hulked in the corner of the living room, its sole purpose had been to put shoes up on so Angel wouldn't eat them in her basket of shame.
Something needs to go, and this would be a good thing to get rid of.
"You are right," I told Lamar. "We need to clear out this clutter. So I will get rid of the treadmill."
The treadmill I had begged for, the treadmill he broke down and bought me and the treadmill I have only used a dozen of times.
It was a sacrifice I was willing to make.
Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author.