Once upon a time, it was wrong to pronounce the t in often. Once upon a time, people didn’t say oftentimes. They just said “often,” like offen. But that was then. Oft-ten-times is popular now, as are books on how to be generous, how to be grateful, and how to be happy. (Hint: they all go together. Often.)
Books on how to be organized have always been popular, especially around the New Year, when people often make Resolutions. Even people like me, who do not make Resolutions, get caught up in the enthusiasm for closet cleaning, dresser drawer purging, and paperwork filing that reasserts itself at the beginning of each new year.
I cleaned out my top dresser drawer the other day. I probably had 35 or 40 pairs of socks. When I was a working woman, I prided myself on new, colorful, and somewhat unique socks to wear with my old lady low-heeled shoes. Now I am retired, and on the rare occasions when I wear any socks at all, they are oftentimes my pair of lucky socks. I don’t know why they are lucky, but they have lots of strong colors and people seem to like them. So I put most of the socks in a bag for the Salvation Army and only kept about 5 pair. The next day, I had occasion to wear socks and I wore the lucky ones again.
There was also jewelry, some still in gift boxes, that I had forgotten I owned. I usually stick with the same three or four pairs of earrings, my watch, and one bracelet. (It’s a lucky bracelet.) I found a backscratcher. That might come in handy even though I haven’t used it in 5 or 6 years. At least two dozen single buttons in their original tiny plastic bags went in the trash. Ditto washing instructions. I have no idea to which article of clothing the buttons or instructions belonged. A pair of glasses without a case went in the donation bag. I couldn’t see a thing with them on.
My dad’s wallet, flat and worn, was in the drawer. I took it for safekeeping when he went in for surgery, and then he just never came home again. He spent three months in and out of the hospital and a nursing home, and then he died. In the nursing home, he asked me where his wallet was. “I’m keeping it for you,” I said. “It’s safe in my top drawer.” He looked anxious. “What?” I asked. “How will they know,” he worried, “who I am?”
I looked through the wallet one last time, cut up the credit and Medicare cards, and the records of his flu shots and blood pressure checks. I kept his pilot’s license and a much-creased and tattered color photo of a P-38, the plane he flew in World War II. I put those in a file with his name on it. Then I put the wallet in the trash. I don’t need it to remember who he was.
After all that, it was time for a nap. Some day soon, I’ll get to the other 3 drawers. Meanwhile, I’ve saved a lot of money by not getting a gym membership this year. I think being a little more generous and a lot more grateful will make me happier.