Like many people these days, I’ve been going through clothes. I pass closets in the house and they beckon: free me. Free me of this excess.

I’m trying to.

Unlike a number of Facebook friends, I have not uncovered any high-school varsity sports jackets (though I had a few back in the day in women’s lacrosse—go, MN!). I did find some worn college T-shirts and a few maternity pieces I kept, just in case.

They are going by the wayside. It’s enough. You can hold on to lots of memorable things, but clothes simply get older, smaller and mustier. Make room … make way for newer tops, sweatshirts and leggings, or on the flip side, a bit of Zen-like space. Seems like we can use some interior painting, too.

Never mind the fact that organizations aren’t picking up donations right now. So I pile bag after bag of no-longer-wanted items in the garage, waiting for the day that life returns to normal and I can really feel free of the stuff.

One collection I seem to have acquired: hats. All kinds. The olive-green one from my stints in Sarel: the Volunteers for Israel program on a military base. Wide-brimmed ones for keeping out the sun. Baseball caps for days around town and wool pullovers for winter (or bad hair) days.

My fifth-grader also likes hats. It seems that the chapeau doesn’t fall far from the pate.

After I cleared away the main areas, I climbed to the attic to survey bin after bin of boys’ sweaters, socks and snow gear. I’ve kept shoe boxes of barely worn soccer cleats and shin guards, and snow pants that don’t fit anyone anymore.

Never mind the overstuffed bag of “dress up” necessities—everything from magician’s capes my aunt made in custom sizes to ninja one-piece get-ups in different shades of black, or at least that’s what my boys say, and who’s going to argue with a ninja?

Some of it I’ll give away. Some I’ll hand down to my cousins’ kids. And in one sturdy plastic container, I save gold—precious little outfits (a baby tux!) and blankets for when—and I am not counting the days yet—my children have children of their own.

It’s sweet, the thought. How times flies with young ones.

One minute, they have mittens hooked to their sleeves and the next, you’re buying parkas for college. They have hooded towels that make them look like little bandits, and kid neckties they pull and twist, a telling sign that they aren’t going into the hedge-fund business.

One minute, you send them off to school with an extra T-shirt tucked into their backpacks in case they have to change and the next, they’re home with you, shirtless and barefoot during a pandemic.

Complete with face masks of every type and size.

Carin M. Smilk is the managing editor of JNS.

This Reporter’s Notebook will appear starting on March 16 until the end of the month (or when schools reopen).

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