Janet Hommel Mangas: Less is more in this new year

I don’t like to boast, but the hubby and I had a private 2022 New Year’s Day celebration in one of our trio of bedchambers. Before you get the wrong idea and think, “This is either going to be one of her most meritorious, most offensive or last columns ever” — let me explain.

After spending four days between Christmas and New Year’s near Louisville reading, playing board games and writing down our 2022 dreams, while literally watching barges slumber down the Ohio River, I asked the hubby once we were back home if he had any specific plans for New Year’s Day.

“Yes, let’s clean out the kids’ bedroom.” And by kids, I am referring to our three grown adulting daughters, including two who are married, ages 31, 29 and 25.

In 32 years of marriage, I would have never, ever, in a million years guessed that my hubby would have proposed such a preposterous proposition.

Initially, I thought his suggestion was ludicrous, laughable and nonsensical. After all, I had spent three entire days the week before Christmas finishing up the year’s gardening chores and then sorting through basement bookshelves and closets to downsize our collection of stuff.

Thankfully I had received an unexpected text from my 9-year-old nephew at the beginning of his school break to encourage me to tackle the clutter.

“Hi Aunt Janet this is Drew,” he wrote. “Do you need help Monday through Thursday?”

What I discovered after one day of delightful work with this industrious young man is that Marie Kondo, the renowned Japanese organizing consultant, has nothing on Drew. In full disclosure I may be an “abundance lover” when it comes to books or anything that may have memories to my grown children. But Drew threw that Kondo question — “Does it spark joy?” — directly into the “You’re done with it, give it away box.”

After I was obviously taking too long for a certain 9-year-old to finish decluttering the kitchen area, Drew asked if I wanted him to go downstairs and start removing books from the last side of the 6-foot-wide, library-type book shelf that I had been avoiding. When I walked downstairs three minutes later, he had every book off the shelf and began to ask questions.

Holding up two books, he asked, “Aunt Janet, do you want these?”

I hemmed and hawed, suggesting, “Well, Drew I might need to sort through all those since some of those are your cousin Aly’s …”

Without hesitation, he tossed them into the “give-away” box while politely but bluntly reminding me, “She doesn’t even live here anymore.”

The next one he picked up was a large hardback tabletop book entitled “The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance.” Drew, a diehard Ravens and Browns football fan, looked at the huge face of the author on the cover and quickly quipped, “Oh, it’s Tom Brady‚ nobody wants this book in their house.”

So New Year’s Day was spent tackling “Indiana Jan’s Bedroom of Doom.” And I discovered that my hubby is as ruthless as my nephew Drew. After filling five bags and boxes with additional clothes and books to give away, the hubby filled his truck with the “give-away goods” instead of mine.

Without asking him “why,” I only smiled. I knew that he knew that if they were in my vehicle, I would only be tempted to peer back into the boxes to find a book that had great memories attached to it.

But definitely NOT that Tom Brady book.