Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Memories for Sale

If there is anything more disheartening than trying to sell once-precious things at a garage sale, it is the realization of just how few people want to buy any of them.

Every few years we scoop out the contents of the house, shake them gently so that the things that we no longer use or want fall to the bottom, and set those items out on the driveway to be injected back into the Small Item Jetstream that is the garage sale network. This can be an emotionally draining time, especially for me - things have strong attachments to memories, and sometimes it seems a sort of betrayal of those memories to get rid of the things they are attached to. This is especially true with books - I remember the time spent reading them, either by myself or, with children's books, to Tabitha and Lauren. Sometimes I can't give them away even if they are clearly no longer being read - Jamberry, for example, was something that Tabitha and I read together nearly every night for months when she was a toddler, and then Lauren and I read it after that. So that one I keep, along with a few others. Clothes, oddly enough, do not generally inspire such loyalty. I've got no problem getting rid of old clothes, even little outfits that the girls wore. Fortunately, the girls are pretty good about garage sales. They like the idea that the stuff they no longer use will go to children who might want it. Thus we spent a couple of evenings going through their books, piling them into "stay" or "go" categories.

The sale itself was uneventful. For one day of set-up and two days of sitting in a chair in the unseasonably warm September sun, we might have grossed $45 - though, admittedly, most of that was a quarter at a time. The girls actually made a fair amount of money themselves, selling fruit punch to passing motorists and occasional customers. We sold some big stuff that we had liberated from other garage sales years ago - a Little Tykes desk, a kitchen toy set, a pram, and so forth - and the kids books flew out.

My books did not fly out, unfortunately. I weeded my book collection early this summer, taking about six boxes of books down to the basement. These I dutifully placed out for sale, and seven books walked away. What is wrong with these people? These are quality history books! You might learn something! Well, I suppose that is the problem.

The last time we did this, the big category of things for sale was stuffed animals. People like to give stuffed animals to babies, and we had two babies' worth of stuffed animals around the house. I went through their rooms and took out the ones that, for one reason or another, had failed to make the grade - good, quality toys that never became favorites for the inscrutable reasons that kids have. We sold a bunch of them, but still had an entire yellow trash bag stuffed full of them when all was said and done. So I made a call, and then took the bag and both girls (because they should know where these things were going) over to the pediatric ward of our local hospital. The girls bravely told the nurse that they were giving their animals to help the sick children, and they dropped them off and left. It softened the blow a bit, to know that they were going to kids who would love them.

This time, I took the clothes to Goodwill, and I'm working on what to do with the rest of it. It's good stuff, really. Memories come free with every item.

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