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Boxing Day and Organization

I like boxing day. I don’t know what the actual cultural traditions are around the day. I know it falls on the day after Christmas and is British in origin. I have a vague notion that it was the day when wealthy gentlemen would box up gifts and goods to distribute to their less-well-off tenants. Thus Christmas was full of new things for the gentlemens’ families and boxing day was focused on charity. Or, if you were one of the poor, then boxing day was the day of new things.

For me, boxing day is when I clear away all the boxes and accumulated packaging. Many of those boxes get filled with things we don’t use or need anymore. I took a car load of things over to a thrift shop to donate. By noon tomorrow I’ll have accumulated another car load of things. It is amazing how much stuff just sits in the corners of our house, unnoticed and unneeded, but never cleaned up because it isn’t really in the way. Except it is. Because those corners and storage spaces need to be cleared so we have places to put the things we actually use. It is time to clear away all the accumulated stuff from this past year when I did not have the brain to sort. As an example: the shelf in my laundry room where I shoved outgrown clothes until I had time to give them away. The shelf was over flowing, so I filled a big garbage sack and gave the things away. There are lots of spaces like that. Flat surfaces covered in random things because I needed a place to put them down. This week I am clearing them off.

I am also helping the kids tackle their rooms. Link doesn’t need any help here. In the past year he has sorted through his own things and gotten rid of the things which are no longer relevant to him. Patch has a harder time with this. Sorting is overwhelming to him. So we started with a garbage bag and a donation box. Then we picked one spot in the room and began. Once we got rolling, Patch quite enjoyed the process. He liked being able to see how much space he has. even better, he can find the things that he really wants, instead of them being buried under trash and old stuff.

Gleek’s sorting is going to take a lot longer. She has always been an accumulator of small things. Sorting is not just a matter of things she wants and things she doesn’t. Instead we have to dig deep and find all of the stashed rock collections. There are half a dozen purses, each with a similar collection of useful items such as pens, Carmex, pretty rocks, shiny things. The purses must be emptied, the contents evaluated. Each purse considered. Sorting Gleek’s room gives both her and me decision fatigue. I really long to just tear through it when she’s not there. That is what I would do when she was younger and the result would be multiple garbage bags full of things that Gleek never even missed. At younger ages that was appropriate, but now Gleek needs to learn to organize her own things. This is particularly true because Gleek’s collections are one of the ways that she manages her anxieties. Learning how to keep the collections under control is a critically important life skill for her. More important, facing the collections also brings up the associated memories and she has time to process them again when she is not under so much strain. I can see these memories wearing on her. She gets slower to answer my “what shall we do with this?” then she says she doesn’t want to sort anymore. So I bring us to a stopping place and we stop. I have this space between Christmas and New Years when business things are slow. The internet is slow. I can focus most of my energy on putting my house in order. Gleek and I can afford to do a little bit each day.

Going through my room and my office was a lot more fun. In those spaces I can make rapid fire decisions. This stays, that goes. This newly cleared drawer can be re-purposed for something else. When I am done the clutter is cleared away and the surfaces are ready for dusting. And I have boxes and bags of things ready to be given away. I like donating things. I’ll never have to clean them up again. We have an unusually large amount of stuff to donate this year. I believe it is the result of our year of transition. We all changed this year and so the stuff we want and need is also different. We’re re-shaping our spaces to better reflect who we are now instead of who we were.

By the new year our house will be much more organized. It will finally have joined us, prepared for the next phase of our lives.

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2 comments to Boxing Day and Organization

  • Karen Ahlstrom

    I often do professional organizing type projects for friends. When I see that someone I’m working with has decision fatigue, I shift gears. If there are lots of places where similar collections of things are stored, we focus on finding all of them and putting like with like before deciding what will stay and what will go. It’s much easier to say I’ll get rid of five of these when you see ten or fifteen all together than when you just see one at a time.

    For beginners, I do the sorting and putting like with like myself and only invite them in to make decisions once that’s done. Once they have a bit more skill, I’ll have them help me do the sorting to learn what toput together.