Until Next Time

Guest columnist Faye Kennedy talks about a recent "stuff" swap—and how she still couldn't get rid of that foot bath.

By Faye Kennedy

What fun we had!

As has often happened in the past, it snowed and the snow continued to pile up throughout the day but it could not stop us from our annual swap party.

I shoveled the driveway twice to make sure I could get there as this is an event not to be missed. No, we weren't spouse swapping, so I am sure to lose any man reading this article at this very point.

We were swapping our stuff. The stuff—all those things that we have been saving and holding onto but not using. The stuff filling closets, garages and attics. Too good to pitch. Not quite ready for the Salvation Army, but still of value—no longer out of sight and out of mind....but soon to be out in public.

The one rule we have is NO JUNK. We gather our soon-to-be hand-me-downs, books that have been read, appliances that have been replaced, electronics that have been upgraded, and shoes, shoes, shoes!  

I loaded my car with pants that were just a tad too short, a glass bottle in the shape of a high-heeled shoe, an unused footbath with the cord still wrapped in plastic, an electric carving knife used for only a single turkey, a spanking new (extra) Mac keyboard, a red coffee maker that my husband said was too tall for our counter and many other houshold and clothing items.

In the past, people have brought television sets, bicycles, skies, skates, crock pots and tons of books, videos and CDs. Today's booty included the complete "Six Feet Under" video collection, multiple massage devices, an evening dress still sporting the original tags, dishes, jewelry, two more coffee makers, every Grisham book ever written, a breakfast-in-bed folding table, a bowling ball, lots of clothes, jackets, and even a unicycle.

Did I mention the shoes?  

After a splendid meal (the hostess really blew us away with food, drink and desserts), we got down to business.

Here's how it works:

Each person hauls their stuff in and claims some square-footage of the room to display their wares. We take turns doing a show and tell, and song and dance for the items that we are offering up to the group. We might tell the history of why we have a perfectly unused footbath, lament the change in the size of our butts as we wave those skinny pants in front of the younger, smaller attendees, provide book reviews on those read and are now hawking and admit to the items there for re-gifting.  

When we have all talked about and laughed at each others' stories and stuff, we begin the swap. People are eyeing specific items, making mental notes on what they like, thinking about what their kids might want or could use when they go off to college.

There were 10 of us today. We drew numbers and number one gets to go first, choosing any item they fancy. The first thing plucked was my red coffee maker. Then it's number two's turn, then three and on till we have all selected something.

Then we start all over again, and again, and again. We all mill around, scavenging through piles of clothes, pulling sweaters over our heads, getting critiqued by the rest of the party goers.

"Oh, gold is not your color," one person said.

"That Fleetwood Mac album has my wedding song on it," said another. 

As we continue to call out numbers to get the next person to grab something and reduce the mountain of stuff, more stories are shared, deals are made and the tchotchkes, clothes, art and housewares start to build in take-home piles around the room. When everyone passes, we give the nod to grab anything that anyone might even slightly want. We start making sales pitches for the items that we brought that did not get snatched—like that footbath.

Everything that is left is packed up and the host of the party donates it all to the charity of her choice.

There is something very gratifying about giving to and getting stuff from your friends. She took my carving knife. And they loved the shoes! We re-load our cars with fresh curtains, toys and new wardrobes.

What better way to spend a frigid, gray, snowy February day?  

I have hauled in my bucket full of loot. Unlike some others, I left with less stuff than I brought, which was the whole point...or was it?

Editor's Note: Faye Kennedy is a Canon-McMillan Patch reader and Venetia resident.


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