Tales From the Bottom of the Toy Box

I stumbled into a new strategy to reducing holiday spending. It’s related to preparing for another baby. As friends begin to donate car seats and clothes, I’m cleaning out bins, closets, and drawers. Maybe I’m nesting, or maybe I’m just prepping our space for the inevitable flood of baby gear (babies, they roll deep in accouterments).

Purging makes me realize how much stuff we have. I’m no pack-rat, but I’m no Marie Kondo either. I find it restorative to periodically take to the closets, junk drawers, and file cabinets, but I can’t commit to dumping everything in a pile in the middle of my living room to test which items spark joy (Marie’s method). Even still, sometimes I have no mercy, and I’m moved to scale the bags of cast-off goods, and stand atop like a Donation Warrior Princess.

Other times I’m more nostalgic, reorganizing papers, clothes, or vases, although not chucking stuff with a heavy hand.

One stop on my de-clutter mission is my kids’ toy boxes (yep, multiple). Have you been there lately? The bottom of a toy box is a downright depressing place. I’ve encountered some long-forgotten play things that are going to get a new life in someone else’s home. These items just don’t make the cut:

  1. Play-Doh. What is not merged into a multi-color shit rainbow ends up in crumbles mashed into the carpet. Great idea for imaginative play, flawed execution.
  2. Bubbles. If bubbles were currency, I’d be rich. We have a shelf full of dollar
    It looks innocent, but it’s actually a 10′ deep portal to the land of unused toys.

    store bubbles, most of it goody-bag loot. 10% of this stock will bring joy. 90% will get accidentally knocked over on some sticky summer day and cause pint-size grief. Meh, bubbles.

  3. Slutty Barbie. Received as a gift, this Barbie no longer has clothes but does sport her own version of 6 inch heels and “just got laid” hair. The bottom of the toy box hasn’t been kind; she has no Barbie friends, no role models. May she find greener, more wholesome pastures in someone else’s play room.
  4. Talking stuffed animals. Again, gifts given with the best intentions, but the cheerleader doll who cheers “Yippee!” and praying teddy bear who lays his head down to sleep have outstayed their welcome.
  5. Dentist office tchotchkes. Cheap plastic rings, pencil toppers, and bouncy balls, I’m sorry you’re just going in the trash. My inner environmentalist loathes your existence.

Damn, it feels good to drop bags off at the local Goodwill. It makes our house feel lighter and more open. It makes my heart feel free.

As I do holiday shopping, I hold each potential purchase and question, “Can I see this in the bottom of the toy box in two months? Will my sister detest me if I give my niece this 200-piece craft set?” If yes, it stays at the store. May this sense of overabundance continue to drive my spending. May we refrain from buying more stuff this season that will descend to the bottom of the toy box. May some other children enjoy Play-Doh, bubbles, and gently-used dolls.

Happy holiday purging!

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