Friday, May 30, 2008

The Yard Sale

In celebration of tomorrow's yard sale, and in recognition of the blessing that is being a stay-at-home-mom (and since I don't have time to write a real entry)... I would like to present an old diary entry, written a couple years ago while I was still "working". Enjoy...

It's one of those days I wish I could just take off work and do what I want.

Those days are few and far between because I do like my job, and 99.9% of the time, I'm very grateful to have it.

But today is a day of wishful thinking and staring off into space.

Honestly, I wish I were at my grandmother's house right now.

You see, every year in late spring/early summer, my grandmother and granddaddy, my mom and her two sisters, and whoever else decides to join them... have a HUGE family yard sale. It's known quite well in the county, and they always have a good turn-out with lots of bargain-hunting people.

But the money is not even what really matters to me.

Here is the breakdown of what happens every year:

The Thursday night before, just as it's getting dark and beginning to cool down, everybody shows up with car loads of junk... errr... ummm... stuff. We put out the tables and the larger items that we will be selling - furniture and what not - and cover it all with a tarp to keep the evening dew off of it.

Then we all sit outside and talk for a while - if there are kids, they chase fireflies. My grandaddy gets his mason jars, emptied during the winter of their green beans and cream corn. He pokes holes in the top "so the lightning bugs can breathe." And each little kid, with his or her new clean jar runs around the pecan grove seeing who can catch the most, and whose glows the brightest. A few of the girls pinch off the backside of the bug because that side, as every good firefly-catcher knows, continues to glow for several minutes after it has been separated from the body of the bug. These girls (and sometimes boys) will squeeze off the backside and put it on their ears, their ring fingers, and anywhere else they deem necessary; then pretending all the while that they are wearing top-of-the-line diamonds that are so brilliant they glow in the dark. (Yes, we realize how disgusting this is, but since we all did it as children ourselves, we just don't feel we have the right to deprive them of this gross little joy.) Those who deem it too inhumane to dissect the little creatures for fun, will continue to fill their jars until until it becomes impossible to open the lid and insert the latest catch without letting three others escape. These children will undoubtedly put the jars in their room to use as a night light, only to wake up the next morning with a jar full of dead bugs. Dead, all except for one, which had mysteriously escaped during the night and will continue to cast random, and rather eerie flashes of light across the room for several evenings to come.

But I digress.

After the adults have thoroughly discussed the most recent weather forecast, and deemed the next day's weather to be hot, muggy, but a perfect day for the yard sale, and after the children have thoroughly tired of bug-chasing and are beginning to whine and argue with each other out of boredom or tiredness or both, each family ambles its way to its respective car, with plans to meet around 7:00 the next morning.


At around 6:45 that morning, cars passing by on the highway might see Aunt Martha pulling her items out of boxes, or removing tarp from her tables. Over the next half hour, more cars will pull in - some of them family members, here to set up their own tables, and some of them early-bird shoppers wanting to get the "good stuff" before heading in to work for the day.

Granddaddy inevitably takes food orders from everybody before heading down the road for buttery, greasy, delicious Hardee's biscuits.

Around 7:30am, while chowing down on their warm biscuits, the adults begin to discuss the best position for the "check-out table" and lawn chairs. They must place themselves in the area of the grove that will remain shaded for the longest period of time. After thoroughly discussing all their options, the deem the best place to be the very place they have deemed best for the past ten years - under the big pecan tree outside Grandmother's kitchen window, and in front of the now-fading Azalea bushes.

Once everybody is full and in position for the soon-to-be ravage of the front yard, the men, having completed their assigned tasks of setting up tables and carrying heavy furniture, begin to grunt and mumble something about heading off to work.

By 8:30am, all that are left are Grandmother, Grandaddy, the three aunts, and an occasional granddaughter. Soon after settling in, they usually deem it too cool to sit in the shade, and slowly shift their seats into the morning sunlight. They generally return to the shade within the hour.

And that is how the day begins. Other family members stop by on their lunch breaks, or when they get out of school. Around noon, somebody runs somewhere - usually a local bar-b-q place - for lunch. They talk about the weather, the family gossip, and, primarily, the customers. That's the fun part. We discuss, quite in depth, their hair, their clothes, their accents, their skin, and anything else that might set one shopper apart from another. It's not a cruel thing - nobody is picked on or made fun of - it's more like, "Ooo...look at her shoes! I wonder where she got those!"

Aunt Mary, always one to consider the needs of others, usually ends up giving a lot of her stuff away to those who really seem to need it. Grandmother and Granddaddy like to hold the babies and coo while the infant's parents shop. Aunt Martha usually discusses how she should have priced that recently sold item a little higher. She also talks with the many Hispanics who stop by, being as how she spent time in Texas and Costa Rica as a Spanish-speaking missionary. My mom usually flits around from conversation to conversation, enjoying the gossip especially (though she pretends she doesn't). During slower parts of the day, my mom especially loves pretending she is a shopper by walking around from table to table and pretending that she, herself, is a shopper. "That way the people driving by will see a 'shopper' holding stuff, and they will think that they are missing a good deal." At least, that's what she claims to all of us who sit and harmlessly giggle at her efforts.

Each lady takes her turn to answer questions or take money, all the while talking about the muggy Georgia weather.

And I sit there - listening and watching. I join in on the conversation here and there. I do my part, mainly bagging up the items that people buy. But mostly I sit - listening and watching... and loving every moment of it.

Around 5:30pm, the men begin to arrive, one by one, and everybody begins to slowly pack up their smaller items and cover the rest with tarps. Once they are satisfied that everything is protected from the moisture, somebody goes out to get dinner, while the rest of them amble into the house to cool off.

Around 7:00pm, the last of them leaves, with one final confirmation that there is no need to be there quite so early the next morning. 7:30am or 8:00 should be fine for a Saturday. Nobody gets up that early anyway.

6:45am on Saturday morning, Aunt Martha begins to unpack her things, and the day begins all over again for everybody - including me.

But not this year. This year I work. This year I am one of the relatives that stops by for 20 minutes on a lunch break. I will arrive tomorrow just in time to see the last of the items boxed up and loaded into the cars. I'll catch the last of the conversation about how perfect the weather was and how this year's turn-out compares to last year's.

I will have missed everything.

And that, my friends, is why I really wish I could skip work today.

It has nothing to do with my happiness or unhappiness here at my job. It has everything to do with another year slipping by, and another family memory missed.

Okay. I'm off to work now. I'll try not to think about it any more.

Woo hoo! I don't have to go to work any more! Yard Sale... here we come!


Amy Beth @ Ministry So Fabulous! said...

I remember this one... I loved it then and love it even more now. :)

We're going to have a yard sale at the Starlite office, actually. We're CLEANING HOUSE. :)

Brandy Thixton said...

Great fun! Yard sales really are the BEST!

Brandy Thixton said...

PS. Everyone should check out the Starlite Ministries link to the left to see what she's talkin' about.

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood