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?