By Sue Murphy
I had a wonderful holiday season. There was fun and frivolity, and my living room rug came through relatively unscathed. Now, however, we have turned a page in the calendar and it is time to get back to grownup life with schedules and responsibilities of some sort.
For chronic organizers like me, this can come as a relief. After several weeks of ho-ho-ho, I’m ready for a clearer head and clearer spaces in my house. Once the decorations are packed away and the last few cookies have been disposed of (or more likely eaten), I always breathe a little easier.
The first thing on my reinstituted to-do list is to find a place for the gifts that Santa left under my tree. I got a jazzy new cookbook that contains a soup recipe for every single day of the year. That’s right, my dear Soup-and-a-Movie group, get ready because I will soon be coming at you with Penne and Squash Soup with Sage Croutons simmered in my new heavy duty blue soup pot. The movie we can negotiate later, but don’t you worry about the soup. I’m set for the whole of 2018.
The cookbook was easily shelved and, after a little shifting, the soup pot is now happily settled in the cookware cabinet. There are a few other gifts still on my dresser, but I’m trying to take my time and find each item a permanent home, someplace that makes sense and will give me a reasonable chance of retrieving the item when needed. Otherwise, I’m living my life in a giant junk drawer.
But, I’m one of the happily gifted ones. Everything fit me, in one way or another. Some people were not so lucky. They were allergic to polyester. They already had a thing-a-ma-bob. They just couldn’t warm up to their Dipsy Doodle Crockpot. For one reason or another, some happy gifts became happy returns of the day.
The gifts that arrived via the online highway could be sent back the same way. On Dec. 26, I imagine there was a great flurry of boxing and taping and downloading of shipping labels. The armada of delivery trucks that spent the whole of December racing across town bringing gifts to all of the good girls and boys returned to carry the same gifts back to the warehouse where low-seniority Amazon elves, the ones not now on vacation in Cabo, will be faced with the task of restocking.
Gifts of bricks-and-mortar origin had to be hand-carried through a long customer service line that was even longer if the recipient did not have a receipt. Once refunded, those once gaily-wrapped gifts were unceremoniously dumped into the closest wire receptacle, rejected coffeemakers piled in with bathrobes and exercise videos and foot massagers. These refunds may have been cheerful, but the resulting carnage is not a pretty sight. Along the way, people also returned vats of peanut oil, pine tree air fresheners, leftover packages of Christmas tree snack cakes. And everything – everything – is thrown willy-nilly into a single shopping cart. I cannot do willy-nilly. I can’t. It throws me into “Give me that!” mode.
I will try to restrain myself, to stay home and make soup and mind my own business, but if you come across me sobbing as I pry a jelly doughnut off of a Malibu Barbie in aisle 7, you’ll know that I lost my battle, grabbed an overflowing cart and went rogue.
A place for everything and everything in its place … and quickly. That’s what January is all about, Charlie Brown.