I used to be the Entertainment Queen of my crowd. It was close to 40-years ago, but I was the hostess with the mostest.

I fed the hungry, housed the homeless, cheered up the downhearted. I rescued cats, dogs, and lost people. No living creature was ever turned away. It got crowded and if feeding the birds is expensive, imagine feeding 20 extra people every week. I think I was in the kitchen whenever I wasn’t at work.

Motley crowd on Coney Island boardwalk.

One day, I realized I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted some privacy. I didn’t want to clean up the mess or cook gigantic meals. I was tired of spending all my money on other people. The crowd that assembled nightly in my living room weren’t really friends. I had become a facility. A place to crash. Where there was always music, food, something to smoke and probably a good conversation and a sofa.

So I started locking my front door and asked people to call before showing up. About half the crowd never came back … and I never missed them. Others drifted off in the course of time. A few are still my friends today.

Where friends … and guests … are concerned, quality is not necessarily quantity. Actually, these days? Less is definitely more.


A very poor man goes to his Rabbi complaining his house is too small and he can’t stand it anymore. “What should I do?” he asks.

“Get a big dog,” advises the Rabbi.

Puzzled, the man buys a sheepdog and brings him home. The house is even more crowded, and the man returns to the Rabbi. “It’s worse,” he moans.

The Rabbi nods his understanding. “Get a goat. He can be friends with the dog. Oh, and get a cat too.”

Even more confused, the man does as instructed. The house is unbearable. He returns to the Rabbi. “Please, Rebbe, it’s horrible at home. The dog, the cat, the goat … and it smells really bad.”

“I think you need a lamb,” says the Rabbi. “And a calf.”

DogsSlayThe BeastieDutiful to the end, the man gets a lamb and brings it home. The noise alone is deafening. There’s hair everywhere and the place stinks. Finally, he goes back to the Rabbi, now desperate for relief.

“Rabbi, OY VAY, IT’S TERRIBLE. The animals go all over the house and they chase each other. We have no peace, no privacy.”

“Get rid of all those animals,” orders the Rabbi. The man heaves a sigh of relief and the next week returns to see the Rabbi.

“Rebbe, it’s wonderful! We have so much room. The house is clean. Life is wonderful!”

Today, as promised I began the process of crating dolls. As boxes come in, anything big enough becomes storage for dolls. Many of these are more than 50 years old. Some are older than me, but they are effectively like new. Most will end up at the Salvation Army. I hope little girls get to play with them and love them as I did.

But the process of letting go is not merely getting rid of things, but recognizing you no longer have control over what happens to those items. That may be the most painful part of the process.

17 thoughts on “HERE’S YOUR HAT. WHAT’S YOUR HURRY? Marilyn Armstrong

  1. When I did the big purge of 2015 (followed by the purge before I moved here in 2014) I gave away my mom’s crystal. I gave away anything I could. I threw away what I couldn’t. I could have used some of that stuff to write the China book, but whatever. I found it liberating. It’s difficult not to acquire stuff, though. People give me stuff that makes them think of me. It doesn’t usually make me think of me, but… I just took two bags of clothes and shoes to the thrift store. I guess it’s become my mission NOT to have stuff. I’m sure little girls will find and love your dolls. There are beautiful dolls at our thrift store, displayed with love and bought by little girls’ or their moms or grandmas. Happens every day. ❤


    • I hope so. But I would just as soon not know. I have to remember that when I had dolls, I dragged them by one leg face down along the sidewalk and never thought twice about it. These WERE toys and were meant to be played with, not collected my sentimental middle-aged ladies.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you are right. Last summer during the fires I managed to convince myself that if my house burned down with all my special things in it I’d be OK. It was out of my control anyway. However, when I actually have to decide to get rid of things it is much harder. I put a heap of David’s old computer things in the pile for the tip recently. I know nobody wants 51/4 inch floppy disks and old computers are not really my thing but I still felt bad. As for my own things I culled out a lot of dolls a few years ago. however, now that I have seen how kids treat Op Shop dolls I don’t want any of my good ones going to one. At least not one I’d be likely to visit.


  3. Love the joke. 😂 You’re absolutely right that when we give away something, we lose control over it. That takes a bit of time getting used to.


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