I admit that I was raised with pack rat-tendencies. Some people would call it hording. Others, like my father and grandparents, would brand the practice with a more favorable title. It's called "not being wasteful" or "living frugally". And truly I'm just passing down a trait that they learned. For my grandparents, it was a trait born out of necessity. The Great Depression coupled with the hard living that was common to farmers and ranchers in South Dakota (and many other areas of the Untied States) lead people to use everything they had. When clothes wore out, you saved buttons and scraps to repair clothes that could still be worn or create new garments. Bottles, cans and other grocery-bought items were kept for storing and sorting various goods, and flour sacks were used to make clothes because buying fabric or pre-made items cost a great deal of money for them. It forced creativity and innovation in people because they learned how to make do with what they had and use odds and ends to create new tools for which they were not originally intended. If something was useful, you were a fool to throw it out.
That being said, there is a point when a body can go overboard. This truth has become a painful reality in recent years. Anyone who has taken care of the estate of a departed loved one or those who can no longer care for themselves, can attest to this.
After the death of my grandfather circumstances forced my parents and aunt to place my grandmother in a home and put her house up for sale. This meant that much of our free time, as well as theirs, was to be spent cleaning out the house. No one looked forward to this task. Every nook and cranny of the basement was stacked with boxes and bags, much of it trash mingled with items of importance, that had to be sorted. I won't even mention the upstairs. Long story short, we are just now hauling off the last items, almost six months later.
My husband (who is also a scrimp and saver) and I had had enough. Each trip to town lead to another load of junk or family heirlooms that we had to bring home and find a place for. Our little double-wide trailer is now packed to the gills, as is our storage.
As I sat sorting through another load of buttons and sewing material, I found myself more resolute than ever that we were going to start seriously downsizing our junk accumulation. We've decided that this summer we are going to pool our salable items together with my sister's and parents' stuff and have one big garage sale (or auction). So, Newcastle residents, keep your ears open, you might be able to acquire some cheap (or free) goods.
And anyone who's interested in a button bracelet, let me know.