Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Hoarders Non-Anonymous

My dad was a hoarder before it was a thing. Plastic grocery bags, bars of soap from hotels, shoes (loafers in particular), rubber bands, glass jars, towering piles of papers and binders from his years as an accountant: They filled closets and cabinets in the apartment we lived in. My sister and I waded through them all when we cleaned out Dad's place in the spring of 2011. Among the bagfuls of stuff we donated to charity: about 40 Oxford shirts, still in their cellophane wrapping. 

I did and I didn't take after my father. I can't handle clutter (I regularly just close the door to Sabrina's room and our play areas), but I do stock up on stuff and stash it away. Costco has been our friend since we bought our house eighteen years ago. Max was a messy eater and our basement became paper-towel central; Dave and I often joked that we should invest in Bounty stock. Hoarding helped make life as a working parent more sane: If I had a stockpile of posterboard for projects, birthday gifts and cards, I wouldn't be scurrying to get them last minute.

Cut to the present. Hoarding's gotten a bad name, first with those shows about extreme hoarders and now because people are snatching up more than they need at Costco and grocery stories and not leaving enough for others. We already had plenty of paper goods before March, and I've tried not to overbuy as the months have passed though I totally get the urge: Surrounding yourself with stuff can be a comfort.

Back in Max's early days, knowing that we were fully stocked up with paper towels and over-buying developmental toys gave me rare peace of mind and a sense of control, especially when raising him felt like anything but. While there's nothing you can do to stop a raging pandemic, surrounding yourself with bags of flour and towering piles of t.p. is somewhat reassuring. 

Thanksgiving weekend, I started thinking ahead to holiday gifts. Another mom I know is planning to send t.p. as a present through Who Gives A Crap. !!! My plan is to shop local, which is so important right now; a lot of places are offering curbside pickup. And then, I remembered my attic stash. I'd gone to the dollar store last December for some gift bags. Something made me get hordes of them—dozens and dozens—along with tissue paper and cards. And there they were, in a plastic bin, awaiting me. One more thing to ease life during a not-easy time. 

In a couple of weeks, Max and I are going to drive over to his therapists' home for a socially distant gift drop-off. We'll also be leaving a tote with gift-filled bags on his school's front steps, where we pick up his weekly school paperwork. I'd like to think that Dad will be smiling down at a us from above. 

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