Sunday, September 25, 2011

“National Geographic: The Gift That Keeps on Coming”

         Every year for Christmas we receive a subscription of National Geographic for Christmas. I think this last year marked the thirty-second consecutive year that the magazine’s been renewed. Now, I love the magazine; but after so many years, I’m running out of attic space to store the back issues. I called around once to see if any schools or local libraries would take our issues, and gave up trying to find a home for them. Recently, I’ve toyed with the idea of tossing all of them into the huge recycle bins over by the local elementary school, but that seems so wasteful.
         When I taught, I’d take several years’ worth of subscriptions in for my students to read. Many of the kids enjoyed the maps, the wonderful glossy photography, and the articles on exotic places and animals. Occasionally, students would ask if they could keep magazines, and I thankfully encouraged them to take whatever they wanted.  Eventually, the thumbed through magazines became sources for art projects. Now that I’ve retired, I’m at a loss on what to do with them. Next week, our city has a huge trash pick-up and citywide garage sale. I toy with the idea of taking the boxes out to the front yard and placing huge FREE signs on them.
         I guess my longing to clear out closest and attic space signals a shift in my life. My tendency to catalogue and box away books and magazines for “future references” shifts to a need to clean, sort, and simplify. I donated hundreds of books to Goodwill during my last year of teaching. I had “open classroom” giveaway afternoons where other teachers came to my room, raided my closets and bins, labeled book shelves and tubs, and rummaged through thirty years of teaching treasures. Perhaps the purging bug began then, and now it’s continuing into my personal life. I did begin following the guideline that if I buy something, I need to donate or throw away a similar item. A new pair of shoes means I now forfeit a pair. If I succumb to the lure of a set of dishes, an older set must find a new home.
         If I have my way, some kind person will drive up during the curbside clean-up and appreciate the wonderful gift left in our front yard. A bargain hunter may snatch the magazines up to resale at a garage sale or a flea market to try to make a little profit.  I like to imagine another family picking up the boxes and discovering the world through National Geographic's perspective.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman  

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