Monday, 16 May 2011

Giveaway Day: Snoopy bye-bye

I did it! I finally ditched some stuff!

Clutterbusting (or the lack thereof) is bringing home some ugly truths. Like the fact that I have next to no internal motivation. It's not so much that I procrastinate, as that I have a million things to do at the same time. Yes, I want to be able to see across my basement. But first I should put in this load of laundry, buy some groceries, pay some bills, cook some supper, play hockey with my son, read, write, and, um, anything's more urgent than going through my stuff. 

Anyway, thanks to our city's semi-annual giveaway day, I was motivated to get rid of a pile of it.  

On this important day in our civic calendar, citizens are invited to put out unwanted items for one another. I'd love to see satellite imagery of this event, but from the ground it goes something like this. Shortly after dawn, people scurry between house and curb, furtively dragging debris to the edge of the road. Then, the vehicles come. Streets are clogged with minivans, drivers scanning anxiously, children dispatched from rear seats to retrieve treasures from the roadsides, ugly sofas wedged in back. As evening nears, the scavengers dwindle. By nightfall the curbs are picked clean. Any items set out after the giveaway day will remain, untouched, until garbage day; apparently it's no longer socially acceptable to pick up trash in the absence of a special picking event.

This was my first participation in giveaway day.

Preparation began on Friday, when I gathered dozens of unused items and gathered them on the dining room table, for a final viewing. 

On Saturday morning, I spread an old sheet next to the road and arranged an armful of old dishes. I felt like a fool. As I walked back to my door I thought, "This is pathetic. I'll be putting this stuff in the garbage on Sunday. Who would want this crap?" Just then, two cars stopped and their drivers began to review my offerings. I felt shame, rejection.

Returning to the sheet with another load of stuff, I was shocked to discover that some of the dishes were gone! Even more amazing, the first dishes to go were the ones that I had made myself.

By the end of the day, there was nothing left in front of our house. 

The easiest piece to part with was the "brie baker" I got for Christmas. It turns out that a brie baker is just a pot. A pot that's exactly the same size as one we already had. 

The hardest thing for me to part with was a broken Snoopy mug captioned, "No one understands my generation either." An uncle gave this to me in the 1970's, when I was perhaps five years old. I remember my mother trying to explain to me what a generation was. It had something to do with people born at the same time, she said, so why were my baby brother and I part of the same generation? This was mind-boggling. The handle broke off the mug almost as soon as I received it, was repaired, and broke again shortly thereafter. But I couldn't part with the mug until now.

I feel sad as I reflect upon this... I have to remind myself that losing the mug doesn't change the past. That if I could go back in time, my mother and I would still be there, in that room, having that conversation. I'm not sure why this is so hard to believe, but perhaps it's because she's gone. Having that mug wouldn't bring her any closer.

Maybe down the street another child is having a conversation with his or her mom about the mug. I like to think so. Even if that mom is encouraging her child to throw that broken mug away! 


  1. Great post! I love the giveaway day idea.

  2. Thanks! I don't know who came up with the giveaway day concept, but I think every city should have one.
    I guess I should admit that I also picked up one item -- a fancy toboggan that my neighbour put out. Apparently his kids never used it(!). My husband just shook his head when he saw the toboggan. If we don't use it next winter, it will be on my curb next spring.