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We had unexpected company a few weekends ago. My nephew, his wife and their very cute little boys came for a weekend. I know it was the lake that drew them down to Arkansas and that's fine with me. That's why we moved here, too.

We had a great day on the lake and a fun picnic on Sunday. But then my nephew and his youngest son couldn't get on their plane home and we needed emergency entertainment while they waited for a later flight. I'm sort of embarrassed to admit I could supply it. I did a quick inventory of the toys packed away in various closets and was able to pull out a tub of plastic horses, stables and fences. If I had looked a little harder I might have found a tub of tiny cars and trucks, but my youngest was a girl so the horses were more accessible. The embarrassing part is that I have so many toys available when my kids are all grown up and living in their own homes with their own significant others, but without any grandchildren. I can't even claim I have the toys for grandchildren.

In some ways the toys are more mine than theirs. I remember telling my oldest daughter that I put her Cabbage Patch dolls up on the top shelf of the basement storage closet. She looked at me blankly and said, "Why?"

You'll want them for your own kids one day, I told her.

"I'll buy my kids new dolls," she said. "They're not going to want those old ones."

But Gillian, the Cabbage Patch doll with the short blonde hair that usually stood straight up (much like her owner's hair) was a part of our family for years. My mother used to make clothes for her. Yes, I have the clothes, too, in the same plastic tub. It's true what they say about millenniums. They don't value old stuff -- even if it's theirs.

I've always been a saver, maybe even a pack rat, although I refuse to consider myself a hoarder. I once read a book about hoarders just so I could reassure myself that I'm not that bad. I still have the book, of course. What if I do still own a pair of boots that haven't fit around my calves in 20 years. How can I get rid of boots that were such a huge deal when I bought them back in college?

I guess I know that I'm never going to get the kids to take the toys. It took all my powers of persuasion to get the youngest back to clean her room a few months after she graduated from college and moved into her own house. We spent a Saturday down there sorting and tossing and loading. When we were done, her room didn't look any different. She didn't want to get rid of her shelf of cross country trophies, but she didn't want to take them to her new house either. By then, I was exhausted by dozens of other decisions and I let her leave the trophies, the Beanie Babies, even the Samurai sword, where they had always been.

My nephew and my great-nephew slept in that room. I did move the sword when I realized I was housing toddlers.

The problem with being a pack rat, is all the work that goes along with it. If you have a plastic tub full of Cabbage Patch dolls, you have to have a place to keep it. Luckily for me, when we finished the basement in our house, I insisted on the large storage closet down there.

I don't know what my husband thought I was going to store. He never would have agreed to it if he had realized it was going to be filled with outgrown toys and Samurai swords. Not to mention the boxes of half-completed craft projects.

True story: When my oldest daughter got her first apartment I made her an afghan in University of Arkansas colors. Because I was going back to crocheting, I needed to store my needle point. Imagine my surprise when I opened one of those boxes and found a half finished maroon and cream afghan, started long before I knew those were U of A colors. I quickly tossed in the half finished needlepoint picture and put it all back in the storage closet. I'll surprise myself again someday.

Whenever I find myself with extra time, I always have a project to do. I always have plastic tubs to repack and reposition in the storage closet.

I'm lucky that I don't have any new toys to add to my stash. Now I just need to figure out the best way to store the CDs full of photos and flash drives full of writing that are filling up my home office.

• • •

Lynn Atkins is a Weekly Vista reporter, an occasional columnist and a sporadic blogger. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

General News on 10/11/2017

Print Headline: Hanging on...to things

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