Monday, April 22, 2013

Church of the Holy Yard Sale

April is yard sale season. I'm sure you've noticed. Some places have town-wide yard sales ... multi-family yard sales ... fundraiser yard sales. To me, these things smack of religion. Or, at the very least, they shed some light on human praise and worship.

Okay, now you think I've finally gone around the bend. Well, maybe ... if there's a yard sale around the bend. Otherwise, I'm on the mark, I think.

First, let me differentiate between an estate sale and a yard sale. Estate sales happen when people die or move, and pretty much everything goes. With yard sales, you just go through your house and get together stuff you want other people to buy from you. You're not dead, not even sick usually. You've just bought a lot of stuff at other peoples' yard sales, and now it's time to send it on down the line.

A few weeks ago I went to a banquet, and the woman sitting across the table from me described in great detail her weekly forays into yard sale Nirvana. She begins the week before by examining Craigslist and the local papers minutely, noting every yard sale in a 20-mile area. Then she makes a map. She gets up before dawn on Saturday and follows her map. She makes thrilling discoveries. She's proud of her yard sale acquisitions. This lady regaled her hapless hostages fascinated listeners with a long, long list of things she has gotten at yard sales, which included just about everything except her toenails (and for those she got a pedicure kit, unopened, for a quarter).

I wouldn't really say this person has turned yard sale shopping into a religion, but the zeal she displayed is similar to the giddy happiness I've seen in the faces and bearings of some religious people. There's an element of bragging in yard sale disciples that you wouldn't see in most religions, but that look in the eye... it's so familiar. There's bliss in those bargains. There's devotion in their pursuit.

Now let's look at the flip side of yard sales: the sellers. My family is having a yard sale this coming weekend, so I've been pondering the process.

When you throw a yard sale on your lawn, you're inviting the approval or disdain of hoards of strangers. You are a missionary of your stuff, trying to convince others that what you have is of value. If no one buys what you've strewn on your grass, you feel devalued. Worse yet, if someone tries to bargain down your already-low price by noting deficiencies in items, you want to load everything up, take it back inside, and hug it. At least I do.

People are rather like this about their praise and worship. It really hurts when someone belittles you for what you believe and what you value. Likewise, you can't always understand the driving passion some people feel for the process of yard sale shopping. It floats their boat, but not yours. Sound familiar?

Now you're saying, "Anne, I can't believe you're comparing the lowest kind of silly shopping with something as lofty as worship." Well, sorry. I am. It's in our nature to have a set of values (our stuff) which we want to share with others. It's in our nature to study other peoples' values (their stuff) and glean gems from them. It's in our nature to be deeply hurt if people malign our values. Our stuff = ourselves. Which is why many religions inveigh against having a lot of material stuff lying about.

It's human nature that some people go overboard in their worship (hoarders). And there are even the atheists -- the neighbors who roll their eyes and try fruitlessly to get their car through the crowded street, just to go out for a cup of coffee and a biscuit. Why buy other peoples' junk?

So, as I prepare for this weekend's multi-family yard sale on my block,  I'm taking stock of what I have and what I'm willing to display. Faith enters the picture when I continue to believe in my unused cookbooks, even if no one will flip me two bits for them.

In case you're wondering, the collection from this Saturday's holy yard sale will support a deserving young lady as she pursues her college education. Blessed be the yard sale! No early birds.

1 comment:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

To continue your analogy, I really dislike religious people who proselytize. It's so pushy and annoying! And I feel the same way about garage sale owners who push items on me or try to persuade me to buy some particular item. Just leave me alone to browse! Pushiness will simply make me leave without buying anything.

I have the same hate on for salespeople in stores who follow me around and try to interest me in whatever expensive thing they've been told to push on customers. GAH!!!