Like everyone else, I'm starting to put the Christmas things away. As always, the wrapping paper and decorations fluffed up with use and need more space than they just vacated in the hall closet. But that's not the problem. What has me standing and staring into the closet, feeling suddenly tired, is all the other stuff in there. Probably just like your closet, it holds all the things I never use but can't part with. And I got a couple of new things from Santa to add to the collection. Well, I'll just stand here a minute and think about it, maybe this is the year to figure out a way to weed out some of . . . . zzzzzz.
"Hey, snap out of it, you do this every year and I can't take it anymore."
"What?" The closet shelves came into focus as I looked for the voice.
"Up here, the blanket and pillow set your sister crocheted for you 20 years ago. You come in here once a year for the Christmas stuff, say something rude about me still being orange and green, and leave. Any idea how that makes me feel?"
"Well, you are still orange and green and no way am I taking you out in public."
"Hey, what about us? We're the plates you said you brought over on the Mayflower, good old perfectly good dinner plates, sitting here doing absolutely nothing for years and years. Did I mention years? You used to love us, what's the deal?"
I began to reach for one of the hand-painted plates but something stabbed me at about knee level. "Ow, cut it out," I said to the old 13-inch TV on the floor, brandishing its rabbit ears. "What are you doing?"
"Doing? Well, I'm pretty busy down here bored out of my gourd, 13 channels and nothing on, if you know what I mean, mostly because I'm not plugged in. I worked hard, always had crisp black and white, but one day out of the gray, I was sent to the closet! No explanation, no extension cord, no nothing." The TV was irritably turning its channel dial, doing a primitive, involuntary channel surfing thing.
"Please don't do that." I wedged a foot against the channel changer. "I've got two words for you, Bucko - color and about a billion more channels than you ever dreamed of." The little rabbit ears twitched. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean that. I never meant to hurt any of you, I just didn't know what to do with you. Things change. Well, everything except orange and green, that's still so wrong."
"Oh, then stuff us all up on these shelves for all eternity, that's a good idea. She's so sharp," jeered one of the plates, jabbing the crochet blob in the ribs. "Just put us here in the dark, out of sight, no problem. She's probably waiting for an offer from the Smithsonian!" Hoots of laughter came from all shelves.
"Well, excuse me, but can anyone here tell me what the statute of limitations is on sister-made things?" I asked, cruelly. "No? That is correct, there isn't one. And what if I need another dozen plates someday?"
"Oh, for crying out loud," snapped the TV, "let's vote. Who wants a garage sale?"
"WE DO!" they all yelled. "GARAGE SALE, GARAGE SALE, GARAGE SALE!"
I slammed the door, stumbling back a couple of steps, blinking, and realized I still had this year's closet fodder from Santa in my arms. My husband heard the slam and came to check on me. "You're not putting that stuff in there, are you?"
"No," I said, "of course not. We're having a garage sale soon; this can go in it." I backed a few more steps away from the closet. "I'll just stand here holding it until we do. Would you mind putting the Christmas things away this year?"
What if there were a few more days of 2001 for you to get one last thing done? What would you do with the extra time? Would you deal with a closet, get started on your novel or sleep? Send me a note and tell me what you wish you had gotten around to.
Nita Nettleton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.