We give away what we consider “junk”, what we need to get rid of to make room for more stuff, or what we’re just plain tired of dealing with. Why should we bother to truly declutter our lives and reorganize our houses when we can just donate our crap and get more? We get “new” junk to play with, and by magnanimously donating our old stuff to a charitable organization, we have the added bonus of feeling totally awesome about ourselves. It’s a win-win! But so much of that stuff we just got rid of is in good or even great condition, isn‘t it? But I digress again.
I am not too proud to get my thrifty on because I have walked away with some seriously ridiculous deals. I bought a $250+ purse for $2 at one thrift store, and I got a $300+ purse for $4 at another store! One weekend my husband walked away from a thrift store having paid $5 for a brand new $100 composite hockey stick! Holy mother of pearl, now those were some excellent deals!
Those kinds of deals won't just jump up and bite us to get our attention, though. To get to the deals, we have to be willing to dig a little. We also have to embrace the unknown a bit - what will I find today? Will my size be available? Will I walk away empty handed? Is there enough hand sanitizer in the world to make me feel clean again after touching so much of other people’s old stuff?
But the thrill of the chase and the hope of finding a phenomenal deal keep me coming back for more. That, and I’m completely unwilling to spend the arm and the leg that retail stores charge for everyday clothes and items. So it was with a little bit of surprise on my part that the best thing - the most valuable thing - that I walked away with after one of my thrift store trips was a renewed outlook on life.
It was a happy day when I figured out that my children’s school is situated near both a Salvation Army store and a Goodwill store. It was a happier day when a friend told me that every Wednesday is “wacky Wednesday” at the Salvation Army. This means that all clothes, bric-a-brac and books are 50% off and all furniture is 30% off. The place gets crowded on hump day, that‘s for darn sure. Why pay full price for used stuff, right? On a Wednesday a few months ago while I was standing in line waiting to pay for my goodies, I noticed a woman and her daughter as they walked into the store. The mom headed toward the bric-a-brac section at the front of the store. The young girl grabbed a shopping cart, but as she did so, she exclaimed, “Mom, we got a shopping cart! It must be our lucky day!”
So simple. To be happy for the convenience of a shopping cart in a busy store. The girl's happy attitude made me smile, and the woman standing in front of me in line got a kick out of it as well. Sure, it was cute and sweet, and that could have been the end of that. But what if it were more?
I’ve been so down in the dumps lately and with very good reason, but I’m remembering and relearning that there is still joy to be found in everyday life. There are still so many reasons to smile, to laugh, to enjoy the little things of life and to be joyful. Ok…maybe not joyful, but at least not so morose so much of the time. What have I been missing while I’ve been withdrawing into myself? What everyday joys have I been blind to while I’ve been blinded by grief? Have I missed out on the little things that could have helped my broken heart to start healing because I haven’t been willing or able to notice them?
That little girl’s joy over a shopping cart was a fleeting thing, I’m sure. Something quickly forgotten by her during her shopping trip, her comment possibly not even heard by her mom. I heard it, though. I heard it, and I remember it. That I’ve done that much is, I hope, just the first, small step of many that I’ll have to take to learn to find joy again.
St. Ella, pray for us!