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As part of a plan to get order in my life, I did something I never thought I’d do: I hired an organizer. I’ve been thinking about this move for a long time, starting probably 9 years ago, when my sisters and I had to clean out my parents’ house so that they could move from North Carolina to Alabama. My parents were in their late eighties at the time, and they were Depression-era folks, so they still had everything they had ever accumulated themselves or received: every bill, Christmas card, magazine, item of clothing, even every rubber band. My favorite was the closet full of dead Christmas wreaths under the stairs: just waiting to ignite. And, to top things off, you couldn’t throw out boxes en masse—because in the same box as the copy of the bill from McDonald’s for breakfast in 1976 might be a savings bond or Amelia Earhardt’s autograph.
I decided recently that, no matter what, I was not going to do that to my children. To be fair: my husband, Tom, played a large role in my coming to this decision. He bet me that, of the 20 or so boxes of old papers that might be in our attic, he could claim direct responsibility for, at the most, 2; furthermore, he bet me that I could not throw any of mine out. I bet him there were no more than 10 boxes up there, of which 3 were mine. We both got the numbers wrong, but he won the first part of the bet: we carried down 45 boxes and only 5 of them were Tom’s. (more…)