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I Gave Away Ten Pairs of Socks Last Week

I’ve been looking at my overflowing drawer of socks for about a year. It took me that long to finally get rid of some of them. They went in a bag, with each pair neatly tied together with a safety pin, left at the Salvation Army store. This does not make me any kind of special saint, but it did feel good to give them away. They are all good, some hardly worn at all. Now my sock drawer has room for me find the right ones easily. It was a win-win!

I do like good socks. That’s why some of our family will give me socks for Christmas or Fathers Day. I have on occasion actually purchased some for myself. I am a kind of socks connoisseur. And every pair has come into my drawer with good intentions. Each seemed to have a virtue that would go well with a particular day, weather, or style of dress. But, darn it, I accumulated too many! What to do? When I finally made that painful decision, I naturally picked out the ones I had worn the least, or which had fallen out of favor when “I found a new love.”

All of this may sound prissy or self-absorbed. But it’s only part of a personal challenge I’ve been working on. There are other areas in our home with excess stuff hanging around. So every week I try to give away or sell something we don’t need. I usually get it done on Mondays if possible. Notice I said, “or sell.” It’s easy to sell things on Craig’s List, Facebook Marketplace, or on Ebay. A few days ago we finally gave away a perfectly good 42" Plasma flat-screen TV which I had bought on an estate sale. We tried to sell it but had no takers so we listed it as FREE. A young family man came to get it and they are very happy. It no longer clutters up the room where it was waiting. End result? We feel good and somebody else feels good, too.

How many other things am I hanging on to just because I thought we might need them someday? I am probably not going to read that book I bought 10 years ago, because I’ve found 10 other books since then that are more interesting. Some excess things are just sentimental objects I got somewhere, or maybe a gift from some nice person, so I hold on to it, not to insult that memory. And on and on.

One reason for getting rid of the things I don’t need is that it makes my work area, or wherever they are taking up space, more appealing and fun to be in. While working at Herman Miller, the office furniture manufacturer, a long time ago, I learned that the appearance of your work place or living space will affect your mental state. With more order and less clutter, you can better concentrate, be more productive, and enjoy both work and leisure.

Marie Kondo is the expert on getting rid of things and making your living space more happy. But I’ve never seen her videos. I have been challenged by the edgy 21st Century Christian leaders like Shane Claiborne who question our American way of gathering stuff and generally ignoring Jesus’ most challenging sayings about the poor and underprivileged. I have to ask myself, am I more or less like the man in Jesus’ story who, upon seeing he would have a big harvest, said, “I will build bigger barns and say to myself, ‘Take it easy, eat, drink and be merry.’ ” (Lk 12:13-21) It was one of Jesus’ warnings against the pleasure of accumulating stuff for yourself. Giving, sharing, selling, even sometimes dumping, it’s all fun. I’m going to try to keep it up.

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