Monday, December 17, 2012

To Donate or Not to Donate, That is the Question.

Hold on.

Hear me out.

Imagine with me for a minute...

It's that time again: Christmas, birthday, spring cleaning, your closet is overflowing, you can't afford the storage unit anymore or find yourself contemplating a bigger one.  You've decided it's time to get rid of some stuff.

You unlock the lock, throw open the doors and behold: the Mountain of Stuff.  Boxes and boxes of it.  Some of it is from last week, some from last year, some from 30 years ago, some from the Mesozoic Era.  Plastic boxes, cardboard boxes, metal boxes. Some black or silver or white garbage bags.  You well and truly don't even know what's there exactly.  What are you going to do with it?  Toss. Keep. Donate. 

You think to yourself as you open each box, Oh, I remember this!  What a great time we had together.  I guess I don't need it anymore.  But it must still be useful!  I'll donate it. Someone will want it.

Stop. Hold it right there.

What are you holding?  Clothing?  An old toy?  A book?  A piece of furniture?  An 8-track player?  A holey (that is NOT misspelled) shoe?  A sock with no mate?  An archaic piece of technology?

Is it REALLY going to help someone in need?  Or is it just going to get some treasure-to-you-trash-to-everyone-else guilt off your chest?  Will it help someone survive or live better, or will it just add to a pile of useless junk in someone else's closet or even the store because no one will pay money for it??

What brought this on?  It is natural to wonder.  I'll tell you.

My kids' toys.

It happens naturally enough.  They get a toy from a friend or family member.  They love it for a few hours, days, months, or the lucky toys even get a few years.  Inevitably, the toys lose their appeal and drift to sundry bedroom corners or sink to the bottom of the toy box.  Vital pieces go missing (or are eaten, ha).

"But!" you say.  "We have memories here!  I can't just throw our memories in the trash!  If this such-and-such is used by someone else, our memories will be preserved, honored, remembered!"

Um. Yeah. No. Not really.

They won't have your memories.  Your memories belong to you.  They're pretty much meaningless to most everyone else, and that's fine.

You know what that stuff is doing in your house, to your house?  To your psyche?  To your soul??

Who has heard the backpack/rocks/sin parable?  Raise of hands?  Great!   Well, it doesn't just pertain to sin.

The stuff we accumulate weighs on our minds.  It stops us in our tracks physically and emotionally and spiritually.  The more you have to keep track of, the less brainpower you have to dedicate to other (some would say more important) things or people.

So I'm going to get rid of these extra toys that the kids don't even ask about anymore, that don't have all their pieces, and even some that require batteries that I don't feel like spending the money to replace.  And seeing as how most of it got to us because someone else didn't want it either, I'm going to toss it in the trash and not feel even one tiny inkling of guilt about it.

Because sometimes, your trash is everybody else's trash too.

And you know what the kids are going to do?  Mostly nothing.   They won't even notice that stuff is gone.  If they do notice, it will be in passing.  I will answer honestly when they ask me if I know where it is, "No, I don't know exactly where it is."  Then they will forget.

Oh, and they'll be running around the house with huge grins on their faces because, unbeknownst to them, they were weighed down by all the stuff they had to choose from to play with, and suddenly they feel much better.  They won't know why, but they'll be happier.  And I like happy children.

So next time you find yourself getting ready to donate something, please ask yourself if it is truly worth donating, or if it is more honorable to take a picture (with a camera or just your mind) and let it rest in peace.


No comments: