Sadly, no, I haven't recently been mistaken for a younger and less gray haired version of myself. But it's bad. Really bad. I've discovered I'm not just an Internet admitted hoarder of paper and plastic bags. Nope, I've now crossed the line into full blown greeting card hoarding territory. It's a slippery slope I tell you!
The whole process started so innocently. Yes, this latest guilty realization of hoarding came as I was in search of Valentine's Day decorations. (February is just around the corner, after all.) While rummaging through the buffet in our dining room in search of paper hearts to delicately hang from our chandelier, I stumbled upon it. "It" being my hoard of greeting cards.
Like a junkie who just uncovered a hidden stash long forgotten, I knew I had to rid myself of this evil hoard. But each card probably had such deep sentiment and meaning that my life simply wouldn't be able to go on without the comforting and earth shattering messages in the cards like "Happy Birthday." Yes everyone, I agree, I had a very difficult set of decisions ahead of me. As Lulu looked on from the other room, she could sense the pain and confusion I was probably experiencing.
Here's a little background that I'll pass off as a thinly veiled excuse for this paper-based addiction. Just as my mom has done for many years, each time I receive a thoughtful card in the mail, I proudly display it on our fireplace mantle. Having moved to another state, far from all family, this simple tradition makes birthdays and anniversaries feel more special. While we may not have the physical presence of family on a daily or weekly basis, the display of their heartfelt words reinforces our bond and reiterates that someone is thinking of us from afar. What I'm trying to say is, "I learned it from watching you, okay Mom?!?!" This photo of our dining room circa October 2004 shows my tradition.
After displaying the cards for a week or so after the event, I lovingly tuck all or most of them in the buffet drawer nearest the mantle. Years of completing this tradition has taken its toll, and this weekend the shocking realization of the situation had set in -- the greeting cards were taking over.
Greeting cards are now packed so tightly in this drawer it can barely be opened. Forget storage for paper hearts, I knew I had to stop in my tracks and remedy this situation immediately. Alex hadn't started photographing the event until after I had started organizing, attempting to hide my shame from the cold and soulless lens of our camera. What we're left with is the grotesque mid-cleaning crash, overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation. Lulu, bored with my plight, began looking forward to her next nap, clearly only moments away.
I sorted through the stacks, keeping personal favorites and those with meaningful notes. Clear patterns began to emerge. Without a doubt, my friends and family know my three passions in life and know them well. The assortment of cards that made the cut clearly fit into three primary categories.
1. Cute animals, specifically pugs.
2. Cake, specifically cupcakes.
3. Alcohol, specifically martinis.
Okay, maybe "passion" is a bit extreme. Or, upon closer inspection, perhaps not.
After having appreciated all the cards one additional time, I recycled those that didn't make the cut. I was able to put a big dent in the sheer quantity of my hoard, and after completion, now have a drawer that is nice, neat, and has open space for the next round of holidays!!
Having completed the task, and now refocused on my Valentine's search, I opened the top right drawer of our buffet. There, among errant paint chips of years past and a bunch of other random junk, lie an unspeakable horror -- more cards. Perhaps there's no hope for me after all, but I'll admit it, I quietly closed that drawer without a bit of sorting or savoring, leaving that project for another day.
Are you finding yourself drawn to organizational projects this time of year, perhaps as a New Year's resolution? Do you too find yourself saving greeting cards and other thoughtful keepsakes, only to be later surprised at just how large your stash has grown? Are there other items you "save" that have gotten out of control? Please tell me I'm not alone in my sickness.