I'm not a hoarder.
But I get tempted.
And I bet you do, too.
Let's discuss — but I'm going to avoid using the verb hoard, since that's so judgy.
Instead I'll say retain.
As in I retain water, which used to be my excuse for an extra five pounds. Like I'm a swimming pool with legs.
Then I would say I was bloated instead of chubby.
Words can be magical, can't they?
Anyway, as I got older, I started to hate clutter and I threw out a lot of stuff, so my house looks neater.
I even have a mantra: When in doubt, throw it out.
But there are four categories of things that I cannot bring myself to throw out, which might fall within the technical definition of hoarding, if you're the judgmental type.
If you're not, read on.
The first is the spare-button-and-matching-thread packet that comes with a new piece of clothing.
I retain all those packets.
I can't throw them away.
Yet I have never used one, ever.
Usually it's sweaters that come with matching threads, and I save each of those, too, as if I'm going to start darning.
Leave aside the fact that I don't know how to darn, and if I had a sweater that developed a hole, I wouldn't have any idea how to sew it so it looked seamless.
And I don't even feel bad about that.
Guess what — I don't churn my own butter, either.
Why do I save the spare-button-and-matching-thread packets?
Because of my other mantra: You never know.
You never know is a terrible justification for anything, but I use it all the time.
My second group of hoarded/retained items is gift bags.
First, whoever invented the gift bag is a genius.
Wrapping a gift is annoying, and the only thing more annoying is carrying home rolls of wrapping paper, where they will — guaranteed — slide out of your bag like a gaily colored logjam.
When the gift bag was invented, I hopped on it, fast.
I loved that you could throw a gift inside a bag and seem generally well-mannered as you handed it over.
Extra points for tissue paper, which I never have.
Newspaper doesn't count — not even the comics.
I'm not exactly sure why I can't give my gift in the bag from the store, but I assume that wouldn't prove my love to my friends.
So I spent three dollars on a gift bag.
Wow; that's a lot of love.
When people give me a gift bag, I cannot throw it away, so I have approximately 3,000 gift bags stuffed in other gift bags, just waiting for me to give out 3,000 gifts.
I don't have that many friends.
And last week, I gave one of my friends a gift in the very same gift bag that she had given me last year, which would be a new friendship low for me.
I didn't regift, I regift-bagged.
The final category of things I hoard/retain is boxes.
I love a good box.
If I get one, I can't throw it away.
There is so much to a box, much more than a box.
I sound like Dr. Seuss, but bear with me.
First off, you can put things in a box, and if it's a really good box, the things will keep forever.
I've had marriages that didn't last as long as a box.
I should have married a box.
But instead I married an inanimate object.
Secondly, if you put things inside a box, they won't show and will look neat. In other words, you can hide things in a box.
How great is that?
That's why drawers are useful, and also cabinets you can't see through.
My kitchen has cabinets with glass fronts, and, believe me, they suck.
Because after I start shoving things inside, like recipes from the newspaper for dishes I'll never make, you can see the mess right through the window.
I save the recipes because you never know.
Except with the glass cabinet, you know.
That I'm a hoarder.
Sorry, a retainer.
And I'm sucker for a box from a fancy store.
Yes, I save snobby boxes.
I display them prominently in my bedroom to shore up my self-image and hide my mess.
For example, I keep my spare-button-and-matching-thread packets in a Chanel box.
That's high-rent hoarding, friends.
And I have an Hermes box that contains nothing but a Prada box.
Because you never know when you need a really pretentious box.
The final category of things I save but expressly do not hoard is the vase that flowers come in when someone sends you flowers.
Luckily for me, I don't get flowers that often.
But when I do, I keep the glass vase.
It's pretty, useful, and also free.
But recently I decided I have too many vases, and from now on, I'm going to make myself throw them away.
I can't let myself save something just because I got it free.
Even if you never know.
Because, sometimes, you know.