Filling of storage boxes with the old fills void typically felt during winter

This article was originally published in North County News.

The static cackled, but the irritated voice came through clearly from her cell phone. “I have one more store to try,” she began. “I’m hoping Hunt Valley’s Wal-Mart won’t disappoint me.”

We exchanged logistics and timing information, concluding we needed to push back our dinner reservation another half hour. I had to snicker as I hung up the phone. She was a woman on a mission, determined to find that Rubbermaid holiday storage box–today.

What is it about January that brings out the clutter-conquering spirit in all of us? My friend, Skipper, had been to two Targets and the White Marsh Wal-Mart searching for that perfect container. She reported empty shelves, or worse yet, lid-less containers.

The folks at Rubbermaid tell me that post-Christmas sales surge 50%, accounting for almost one-third of all revenues for storage products.

Why? Perhaps after the holidays, we decide to organize, to lump and label as we ruthlessly throw out or recycle what we no longer need or want. We need to clear out the old to find room for the new.

Maybe it begins when we finally take the tree down. For the first time since my paralysis five years ago, we bought a live Christmas tree. The kids’ favorite caregivers helped us make the trek to the local tree farm one drizzly cold December Saturday.

Perched in my van with the window cracked, I delighted in the tunes of the season that filled the tree-studded lot. The kind owner brought a cup of hot cider as I watched my crew disappear into the evergreen forest.

My eldest emerged a few minutes later, declaring the only tree they liked was “a little bigger” than the 7-footer we traditionally assemble. Guilt-fueled generosity prevailed as I sipped my cider and encouraged her to pick what she and her brother liked. After all, they’d been deprived of a real tree for years.

Ten minutes later, they emerged with a ten-footer. After I put my eyeballs back in my head, I admitted they made an excellent choice. It was a beauty. Once inside our home, the branches bloomed, stretching up and out to hold our heirloom adornments, this time with the never-to-be-duplicated evergreen aroma.

Three weeks later, we dragged the unadorned down and out, trailing needles while filling the room one last time with its pungent scent.

The vacant space remained, begging to be replenished. It was our first step in clearing out the old as we began our mindful placement of the new.

January gives us time to be mindful. Holiday observances as well as unexpected inclement weather often put us at home with our projects and promises of what we hope to accomplish in the coming year. The time is ripe to re-order our world. We reorganize with the future in mind and begin to plan.

In my IBM days, January planning sessions were mandatory for all sales reps. Account reviews culminated in detailed plans, complete with action items and due dates. This year, I’ve participated in both church and charity planning events while adding one new session: family planning with my kids and their dad. Why not? I reasoned.

Let’s agree on what’s important in the upcoming year – school, church, sports, vacation, as well as personal goals, and then make a plan.

As my father likes to say, “What is planned is possible.”

But what really needles me is my imagined corollary of, “What is not planned is darn near impossible.”

Ideas without plans often stay that way, I’ve learned. Projects without time lines can fail to progress. And even the best of intentions without commitments may never be realized.

Possibilities demand a plan to become real. So, with my de-cluttering spirit energized by my own fresh supply of Rubbermaid, I’ve begun to re-order my world, clearing out the old and creating room for the new–making plans for my possible.