The Christmas Story

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A.k.a., the Craigslist Christmas.

Early in 2019 when I turned fifty-nine and a half I began to look for carpet. I floundered. Why anyone would change their house over someone with a bunch of samples in the back of a truck I don’t know. In landscaping there is a general rule: place the new plants in their new home before digging and planting. That is not so easy with carpet, plus the expenses are a lot higher and the people may be undependable.

Isn’t it beautiful? Enough written about that for now.

While old by many standards, I am part of the end of the first generation to retire on their own due to IRAs. The change is huge. People no longer stay at jobs in order to qualify for a pension. Anyone who kept even a small amount in such an arrangement made a mistake because a 401K with company matching is much better. Then, when it becomes an IRA, or better yet a Roth IRA, you are in the money.

I was lucky and good at it in order to achieve that kind of growth. It is an incredible thing to have financial independence, even if it is not a billion or even a million.

Early on in 2019 I went on a spree. First it was the big black Mercedes diesel. Battery, antifreeze, tires, and all-around check-up that did nothing more than fail and put the car right back in the garage. There was the fiasco with MetLife, county and state cops, and nonexistent Quest Tow Network.

Then I decided to upgrade my washing machine. What does a life-long bachelor know about buying a washing machine? There was a time that the thing to do was to go to Sears. There is a debate about which is better, old agitator or new without. I couldn’t even open the damn thing in the place where it was, and I could afford to upgrade. E-commerce can be great. Isn’t it beautiful?

Not only did I not know how to buy a washing machine, I didn’t know how to get rid of one. People sell used washing machines for $250-300. On the other hand, you can buy a new one (a small one) online, delivered, for $100. I figured my old one is worth $200, therefore I will sell it for $100.

My gosh, nobody wants to see a picture of a washing machine, but I sure would like to get rid of that old over the range microwave. It is about nine times bigger than any dish I ever put in it. My goal is parsimony.

$75 for the washing machine and the microwave did it and the local couple who bought it was really happy. I couldn’t believe it. They showed-up with a trailer, dolly with straps, and gave me cash. The man and the woman lifted it and would not let me do a thing. And it is exactly what they wanted. No tax, box, or delivery people.

Like me, they have lived “in the mountains” for twenty years. “Just a basic washing machine,” is what she said she wanted.

If I couldn’t get rid of it I would have given it to charity.

As the holidays approached I continued my cleaning. Or should I write clearing? It is a right of passage to be sure, and family or not at sixty it needs to be done. Call it a holiday bonfire, what with the fireplace.

I was emboldened. I learned from eBay and elsewhere, like everyone younger than me has, anything goes if you include pics or video. It was all itemized by model number and condition. I offered it for free, including the old laptops not pictured. Please take the old window and other stuff off to the right also.

For everything in that picture, save for the VCR and tube TVs, I have a newer and better one.

I posted it on Craiglist the evening of Christmas day. I could have been aware when people started responding “I’ll be there” before any pictures were included. But I started piling it up in front of the garage. I took more photos with updates; first come, first served. I was very surprised by all the replies.

I was happy. Another Christmas without family, but I had made significant progress. I had actually made it through to the walls behind. Each box had been opened. I had made every decision between keep, give away, or burn.

I also found

Gosh, this was never finished. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Where I live, the sun is at its prettiest, and it is quiet and sometimes snowy. It is also close to the solstice, the days will get longer and things will grow and become greener.

It was nice to get rid of some things and help others out in the process.

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