Ho Ho Hoarders

When my kids were little, all I wanted for Christmas was ten minutes of solitude and for my house to not look like we belonged on an episode of Toy Hoarders.

Our house had a closet in the basement that was probably 20 feet long and 5 feet wide with a set of shelves running the length of it.  It was the official Toy Closet, and there was a six-year stretch during which no one saw its floor.  Many Barbie dolls were denuded and decapitated in that windowless room.   And once, a dachshund got lost in there for half a day.  I often joked that when we moved, it would be easier to torch the Toy Closet than to clean it.

When my kids were teenagers, for Christmas I would have given up my two front teeth in exchange for a weekend night that didn’t involve a sleepover.  Because sleepovers were trouble.   I once got a call from the manager of the local Domino’s pizza, for example, informing me that they would no longer deliver pizzas to my daughter’s upstairs front window via bedsheet.

“Do what?” I asked, completely confused.

He explained:  “My delivery people have been instructed not to pull into your driveway or ring the doorbell or knock because whoever is ordering pizza is afraid to wake you.  They’re told to park on the street and place the pizza in a bedsheet  lowered from the second story window.”  He paused, then said, “We will no longer be able to do that.”

“You should have tipped better,” I told my kids when I banned pizza orders after 10 p.m.

Now that my kids are almost grown, I have a clean house, all the solitude I need, and as much sleep as I want.  And I would give half a lung to have my kids all back home for just a night or two.  Because with the girls in college and my boy living with his father, sometimes I miss them so much that it’s hard to breathe anyway.  But that’s also, I think, a sign that I did my job.  What I always wished for my children was that they would grow up to be self-sufficient and good-hearted people.  They have, and that’s what I’m most thankful for this holiday season.

I’m not completely alone, either. They left me all their animals.  And if I tried, I could probably get myself on an episode of Dog Hoarders.

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