The Maybe Box Keeps The Peace At Home

by Kevin Burton

   One box in our house provides encouragement and saves us from arguments. We call it the maybe box.

   This is the box that ensures that Jeannette and I stay on the same side as we fight the Great Clutter War.  Every family needs a maybe box. 

   The maybe box was born one day when I found my precious Kansas platter in the box of things to be given away. 

   “Oh but nay, surely nay,” I declared to my beloved.

   I forget where I got the platter but I’ve had it for years. It shows a map of the large cities and medium-sized towns of Kansas. It shows the state flower the sunflower, the state bird the meadowlark and the buffalo, the state animal.

   The platter shows were the Santa Fe Trail runs, entering Kansas near Olathe in the east going through McPherson where I went to college, going west to where it splits at Cimarron where Jeannette’s Uncle Dick lives, and leaves the state in the west at two points, near Richfield in the south, Syracuse north of that. 

   It wasn’t the first time I had seen something of mine in the giveaway box. Once I saw a plastic water bottle I had gotten at the Kansas School for the Blind when I attended a wrestling tournament there (as an old guy spectator, not a young guy participant).

   I learned to look in the box periodically, lest I lose something I look at once every three years, but nevertheless can’t imagine living without. The maybe box is a much better solution.

   Jeannette said she thought the Kansas platter was hers by way of explanation when I rescued it.

   I guess that is a place you get to in a marriage.  Is that a good place, when you forget who brought certain items into the marriage?  Is that the point you truly become a unit, or is that a dangerous place?

   Whatever the case, we must be there.

   Anyway, that’s how the maybe box was born, not a moment too soon. 

   When one of us has an item we want to get rid of we put it in the maybe box. If the other person agrees, the second person moves the item to the ultimate out box.  But the second person can also reclaim it.

   We have a superabundance of stuff just now, furniture but also smaller treasures given to us by Jeannette’s mother or my mother.  Both have downsized in the past year. Both have given us some awesome things and some un-awesome things.

   It is encouraging to see new items in the maybe box. It’s a signal that we really are headed toward having a normal house again, instead of a warehouse.

   For the sake of good journalism we just had a maybe box review, adding a small stool to the box and sending small plastic baskets and some motivational DVDs to the out box. 

   We also jettisoned some plastic sleeve things. I’m not sure what Jeannette’s mother was using them for.  To me they looked like packing material and we have enough of that.

   There is a place called Care and Share in our town that accepts discarded treasures for resale.  It is open Monday and Thursday afternoons. Most weeks we have some kind of contribution for them.  We will probably be regulars into the summer.

   Care and Share may not get too much from some of my donations though.  I tend to keep clothing until it falls apart in my hands or the washing machine.  I remember walking through a different secondhand store and asking Jeannette, “if I took this jacket off and gave it to them would they hang it up or throw it away?”

   She answered the question but really didn’t have to.

   Had my Kansas platter gone out the door, there is some question as to how long it would have been before I missed it. 

  So maybe we should have an “aw come on man” box for ongoing clutter disputes?

   We probably won’t ever need to truly grieve the loss of any treasure. Given the state of our clutter piles we could go on indefinitely assuming it was here…somewhere.

   We empty the cats’ litter box once a week, the maybe box almost as often.  Be my guest, take that analogy as far as you want.

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1 Comment

  1. You are fortunate to just have a maybe BOX with perhaps some furniture stacked around it. Ann and I have a maybe garage bay. It was generated by the fact that, for nearly five years, we had to maintain two households. This was because my employer at the time, Envision, transferred me from Topeka to Wichita. We did not want to give up our house of, at that time, 25 years, and although retired from full time work, Ann still had some obligations in Topeka. We therefore became a two household marriage, one in ?Topeka, and one in Wichita. I went back to Topeka two to three weekends per month, and Ann tried to spend about one week out of every four or so with me in Wichita. When we first established the Wichita residence, I was going to try and keep things pretty minimal there. Over nearly five years, however, there are comforts one desires and acquires. Thus we had a lot of duplicate stuff when I retired from Envision and we re-combined our households. Additionally, given that we had more house than we were using in Topeka during the time I was mostly in Wichita, we rented a room to a border. He was a nice, single man in his 50s who attended our Church, and the friendship and appreciation for each other grew. Unfortunately, however, he ran afoul of some medical problems and died rather suddenly. His family did not want most of his stuff, so we inherited most of it. Now I have learned that we are going to have to move the offices of the Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, where I work in retirement, to smaller offices as well. Someday, when all of the other projects are done, or at least further along, we will be able to attack our maybe garage bay. Until then, I guess it is good that we have a big garage.

    Michael Byington


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