Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Stuff and nonsense

I'm thinking about the sadness of yard sales.

Although they're fun and sometimes a blessing for those of us who shop at them, it's the fact of their existence, the fact of all those almost-unused toys and books and souvenirs and gadgets and gifts being there in the first place that bothers me. While it's true that one person's trash is another's treasure (I would love to find lids for a couple of my old casserole dishes), too much of what's out there was trash to start with (ugly posters, garbage books, cheap coffee mugs), and most of the rest is unwanted stuff bought by or for people who never really needed it to begin with. So now it's all getting dumped for fifty cents.

I've seen the saddest yard sale stories, like a girl of eight or nine who was unloading all her Barbie stuff (how much did all that cost somebody, and how badly did she think she wanted it at one time?). Handheld beep-beep games that probably made some kid very happy for about two days. Expensive exercise machines, kitchen plugins, baby things, ornaments, giftware. The stuff is manufactured, sold (often on credit cards), gifted, displayed/used briefly, stashed/stored, then yardsaled or thriftshopped. Some of it then gets put to good, creative use by people like Meredith, the Deputy Headmistress and other frugal people we know. The rest of it finds its final resting place--in the landfill.

The point of all this? Not to discourage anybody from having a yard sale and lightening their load of stuff. But to make us think twice about what we acquire in the first place.

Does that seem an unseasonable comment?

("And the department stores will love you, too...and the Christmas card makers...and the candy companies. Oh, Henry, you're going to be an awful popular fellow.")


Meredith said...

I have often thought the same thing, especially in regard to toys and baby clothes. It's STILL hard to keep from accumulating too much, even when things cost a dime.

tootlepip said...

We have been so guilty of this with our own children. We are trying to make wiser choices now. Also, I don't know how much "stuff" I have gotten rid of, given to me by well meaning relatives. I wish we could just get together and enjoy each other during the holidays rather than feel the need to give "stuff".