Is My Secret Out?

I came in early this morning to get a head start on all the stuff I have to do this week (too much) and the person who replaced a much loved colleague handed me a roll of Christmas wrapping paper saying it was a final parting gift from her to me.

Uh, thanks?

I know this will not be the last time I see her so this was definitely done with an element of cheek. The wrapping paper is cute- kind of has a vintage feel about it- but she knew that I would not just bin it.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

I haven’t decided.

A couple weeks ago my brother was flipping channels and stumbled across the show Hoarders. I was compelled to watch but I couldn’t sit through the entire program. I was, in equal parts, astonished, repulsed, amused and oddly comforted by evidence of people like me but taken to the nth degree. I’d watch a bit then walk away. Anything taken to the extreme can hurt you but this hit a little too close to home. My pack rat tendencies are apparently more obvious than I thought.

As overwhelmed as I am with organizing and packing my possessions to make room for my Mom AND renovating my house while juggling my return to work from an extended leave of absence (into a more senior position with impossibly tight deadlines because my predecessor was a complete incompetent) and assuming the task of co-executor of my Dad’s will, I feel relief (albeit only briefly) and not anxiety when a space is cleared. It is very satisfying to see the recycling and garbage bins go out every other week full of stuff that (granted) should have been tossed ages ago.

I hope this feeling is a key difference that will keep me from going down the extreme path of those presented in the show. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

There have been some major and traumatic changes in my life recently. In order to get my parent’s house ready to be sold, we have been helping our Mom go through the piles of stuff that has accumulated over the last 38 years. (More than 20 boxes of powdered detergent? Really?)

I can see where my tendencies come from. I have heard it referred to as War Baby mentality. While the phrase may have been specifically applicable to my Grandmother and my Dad, it has rubbed off on all of us. Each of my siblings share in this “affliction” but our penchant for collecting has manifested itself in different ways.

My sister is a stylish collector of shoes, beautiful clothes, make-up (it is her profession) and containers and her taste tends to run to the very expensive. One brother is a lover of books, bargains (especially non-perishable sundry items) and has trouble getting rid of paper while my other brother has tends to acquire flashlights, levels, screw drivers, fleece, disinfectant wipes and spray cleansers. I love books, containers, can’t just buy one of anything if it is on sale and I hate wasting anything so I tend to say “Yes I’ll take that off your hands” with the intention to do something creative and give it a second life when I should say “Thank you but no. My project pile is eating my house.”

So, she knew this gently used roll of vintage-looking (though not really my style) roll of (specifically) Christmas wrap was going to someone who, as the champion of recycling and composting in the office, would find some use for it. Does it matter that Christmas for my family has always been about the opportunity to spend time with loved ones than the specific obligation to exchange presents requiring gift wrap?

Maybe I’ll find something that needs decoupaging…

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~ by angryegg on November 30, 2009.

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