Friday, December 11, 2009

Pack Rats

Has anyone seen the new show HORDERS? At the suggestion of a friend, I watched it for the first time last Monday evening on A&E. Frankly, it made me cry. And made me a bit queasy. The crying part because it was hard to believe people actually lived this way and queasy because it takes a stiff stomach to see the filth these families live in. I thought of all the children who grew up and are still growing up with a parent or parents with obsessive cravings to collect and horde junk, to the point of floors and ceilings sagging with mountains of trash. Families literally backed into corners with bottles, papers, clothes and junk. Stuff, mind you. These children don’t have friends over for sleepovers. They grow up not knowing where anything is.

Mom is not in the kitchen baking cookies because if she could still find the oven she wouldn’t be able to locate the ingredients. Did you know three million people live this way? Like pack rats on steroids. The people depicted on the show are at a turning point, a divorce, no contact with family members, being evicted, etc. In some cases their homes must be condemned.

Like those with addictions, a horders drug of choice is possessions. They put things before anything else, including those they love. Not only is it a harsh way to live but it’s costly too, in money and relationships. Because they can’t find what they’ve previously purchased, they buy the same things over and over and over again.

You know what I did after watching that show? I cleaned like a scrappy mad woman. I thought of garage sales and simplicity. I like things as well as the next person but my rule of thumb is this: if I see something I want for the house, if I can’t mentally place it, on a shelf, the wall, a nightstand, I don’t buy it. The only exception would be books. Don’t get me started there.

Ma Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie comes to mind; her simplistic cabin in the woods, smoke twirling from the chimney and the little curio on her mantle. The cheese-ball in me loved Ma. Oh I know she was fictional, but a solid, homemade character. I have to wonder if the good ole days were healthier for people. There was no extra money for hording.

Now I love Christmas as much as the next gal but I really can’t think of one thing I need after watching that show. Okay, maybe a bottle of cologne. My Chanel No. 5 is running on E. Oh, and a pair of multi-colored toe socks. Yep, those would be charming. Meanwhile I’m going through what extra stuff I have and giving it away. Anyone need a dried sunflower arrangement?


  1. I think you took just the right attitude about it. People buy and collect so much junk! And none of it is necessary to their happiness. If anything, hording junk decreases happiness for all the reasons you so vividly depicted.

    As you know I have issues with shopping as it is. I've been forced to do a bit of shopping while out here in India and it's had me grumbling the whole time.


  2. I haven't been able to watch the show yet. I've seen excerpts and that was enough. It is hard to imagine the mental illness that goes with that disorder. So sad.

    So, is that dried flower arrangement what you're sending me?

  3. Yes, Jai, we're on the same train when it comes to shopping. Love to give, but a little bit of store hopping goes far with me. Happiness is not based on how much stuff one has. Never has been, never will be.

  4. It is a severe form of mental illness, Ronda. They do acknowledge that. I think watching it once was enough for me.

    Ha, no I'm not sending you the dried flower arrangement and you would thank me for that. Actually, I took stuff over for a Santa shop. Kids that can't afford to shop for parents pick gifts out, and then the parents pick things out for their kids. I had some good stuff to give and it made me happy to do that.

    You should get your package very soon.:)

  5. Oh, I so love the idea of a Santa Shop! What a great idea! I have a friend who collects all kinds of things for our Women's Refuge and families in transitional housing. She says she'll accept anything and she means it. I really does help to know that things I don't use but feel are too good to just toss, will go used.

  6. I haven't seen the show yet, but I've heard it mentioned by others, too. Gotta find it. I think each time I'll watch, I'll clean and throw/give away like a mad woman too. :)
    Glad you brought attention to this, because I still have too much stuff in my house and the more I hear about hoarding, the closer I get to having no more unnecessary stuff in my home.

  7. I hope you do check it out at least once, Anita. It does put things in perspective regarding material possessions. We all have more than we need, which has nothing to do with being happy.:)

  8. Dorraine,

    I feel the same about this issue. Once in a while, I see it on news in Japan. Those people normally live alone. Right now, I know one house filled with things. The owner died a few years ago, and her house with overgrown trees and shrubs has been untouched. It’s on top of a hill overlooking the Yokohama bay. The house probably does not contain filth, but every time I pass by, it pains me because I used to have fond memories there. In 1969, I was there every Friday evening to learn English, and after the house had a fire, I was there again with my daughter. I think as we become old, it’s hard to make decision. I used to be decisive, but lately, I act slowly to things and tend to put everything off. Thank you for this post. It motivates me to do my spring cleaning!

  9. Oh, can I relate to acting slowly and putting things off, Keiko! If I could make a living at piddling, I'd be a wealthy girl. Maybe we could co-author a book titled: Piddling 101! What do you think?

    Take your time. You don't have to make a quick decision. know I'm giving you a hard time!

  10. I heard tell Santie was on his way to Geo's house! Hope you have that list ready. Eat, drink and be merry. Joy galore for your holidays.

  11. It is hard to imagine the mental illness that goes with that disorder. So sad.

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  12. Hard to imagine, yes. Let's stay clutter free, shall we?