Clearing clutter can be hard

Published 11:52 pm Friday, September 5, 2008

By Nina Keenam

How are you at cleaning out your closet? Can you toss something without a second thought? Or do you have a nagging feeling that maybe that 20-year-old dress that’s too short and too tight will fit you again sometime?

“Here, Mom,” my daughter said, handing me a coat hanger with a beautiful black dress on it. The garment was trimmed with sequined edges on the neck, sleeves and hem. “Maybe you can wear this.”

“I’ve worn this dress once,” she said, laughing. “I was thinking about putting it in that bundle we’re taking to the Christian Service Center, but I decided to see if you want it.”

That night before I went to bed, I slipped into the dress and stepped in front of a full-length mirror. Our tastes in clothing are usually miles apart, but I liked the dress. The style was right, the color was good, and the fit was a bit loose. I could have fixed that.

But the length was all wrong. It came to the top of my knees. Because of the edging on the hem, there was no way I could lengthen it.

The next morning I told her I couldn’t wear the dress. “Too short,” I explained. Even when short dresses first came in style, I shied away from them. I didn’t like for my knees to show then. I haven’t changed through the years.

I returned the dress to her. Instead of tossing it on the bundle, she hung it up with some more of her dresses. “I just can’t part with it; it’s such a nice dress,” she said. “Maybe I can wear it again one day.”

Uh, oh, I thought. We might not have the same taste in a lot of things, but we are alike when it comes to getting rid of clothes.

In fact, her daddy is the same way. I recall my surprise one day when I picked up a wastebasket and found his pair of green nylon socks under some wadded-up paper.

“He must have dropped these by mistake,” I told myself. They were nubby and faded, and must have been 20 years old, but they appeared in the dirty clothes basket just about every week. Wonder of wonders, when I asked about them, he said he really had thrown them away. Said they kept sliding down on his ankles and feet.

There are clothes in my closet I’m always bypassing. Just like my daughter, I hesitate because think I might wear them again sometime. Lately a lot of my clothes have mysteriously shrunk. They don’t look the same on me any more — zippers won’t go all the way to the top and waistbands are too short.

I guess we hang onto familiar things because they are just that — familiar. Once they aren’t comfortable any more, it ought to be easier to get rid of them. Maybe it’s time to take another look in my closet.