Every day Life
Here in New England, the days are crisp, the days are shorter. The trees have started to put on their annual show of glorious splendor. All of this, of course, means that it’s time for that twice annual ritual: changing out the warm weather clothes for the flannels, sweaters and woolens. This week, as the temperature dipped into the 40s, I swallowed hard and finally gave in to the task ahead.
Changing seasonal wardrobes, by and large, seems to be a strictly-female affair. My husband’s wardrobe conversion involves retrieving 3 sweaters and a few crumpled sweatshirts from the back of his closet. For me, it’s an ordeal involving several hours of hauling boxes from attics and basements, laying out the abundance on beds, and then sorting, cleaning, folding and packing away the past season in the newly-emptied bins.
Early one morning, I ventured up into the attic to start the process. Two boxes of flannel sheets. (TWO boxes? When did they multiply?) Office attire. Weekend flannels. Sweaters. Too-tight-last-year-but-hey-I'm-optimistic boxes. Hand me downs that were waiting for my kids to grow into – now too small given their rapid growth spurts. These, at least, have a one way trip out of the attic. The boxes are heavy, the attic stairs are narrow. Up and down, up and down. On the positive side, I now had my excuse to skip exercise class. My workout was right in front of me. Eight large bins now filled my hallway.
Every year, I swear that this will be the year I follow the rules: If you haven’t worn it all season, out it goes. The best way, they say, is to wear something, then put it back in your closet with the hanger turned the other way. At the end of the season, you can easily see what was worn. Any items on unturned hangers, gets tossed. It sounds like a terrific system… for someone else. As I sort through my closet, I just can’t bring myself to get rid of that dress or summer blazer that just wasn’t right for the day, the week, the season. There’s the pretty summer sundress, waiting for the party that never materialized. The beautiful turquoise shirt – a steal from an end of season sale last year, still with its tags intact. The sweater from my beloved late aunt. The sandals that pinch – just a little. The pocketbook with sentimental value.
This year, however, my daughter has challenged me, and I in turn challenged the rest of the family, to do away with excess. Each of us was to fill one large black bag full of clothing to give away. I create three piles: one of gently-used – and occasionally never worn - items for Dress for Success, the terrific charity that gives underprivileged women a wardrobe to help ease their way into the workforce. Another pile for Goodwill. And a third for that oh-so-comfortable, can’t-be-seen-outside green fleece sweatshirt, for the clothing recycle drive at the school. I look at the excess and shake my head, and vow to stay out of stores for the rest of the decade.
Hours later, five bins are neatly packed away and ready to go back up into the attic. Closets and drawers have been emptied, dusted, and filled. My wardrobe and I are now ready for winter. I take a warm shower and, getting dressed, realize it’s a perfect afternoon to wear the green fleece. I automatically search my drawer and pause when I realize where it went. I tiptoe down to the basement, pull it out of the bag, and sigh contently.