When I was a kid, we use to get up early on Saturday mornings to look in the classifieds for Yard Sales. It was a ritual. First we marked the paper, then we plotted them on the map, and then we established a route to avoid crisscrossing and wasting gas.
It was a hoot. Very seldom did we go out looking for something specific. And almost always we came home with treasures. I usually looked for books and sheet music. My mother had a penchant for rot iron pieces.
Some days were epic. We'd make two or three trips back to the house to unload the station wagon and then go back out again. So, one can understand why I still get excited when I see boxes on a lawn and hand drawn signs.
The highlight of the year though, was when we had our own yard sale. We would prepare for weeks, set up goods like a department store, and place color coded stickers on items. My friends and I would scheme about how we would make hundreds of dollars selling baked goods and lemonade, and my mother would bring out a cash box my father made in metal works class at the local junior college. In an odd way it was like being queen for a day. It was our day to offer the things that were once part of our lives to the rest of the community. The only other events I can remember feeling as special were when my mother hosted Tupperware and Mary Kay parties.
I still stop at yard sales, but my Saturday Odessey now is pursued with surgeon like precision. Often now when I go, I am looking for something specific, and I no longer use the newspaper classifieds. Now I rely on Craigslist.
As for having my own yard sales, I'm more likely to take bags of items to Goodwill than spend days planning and setting things up in my driveway. I do sometimes have "Free Sales" though. A free sale is when you put stuff out in the yard with a sign that says "FREE". Somehow it's deeply more satisfying than the former practice. The best part is when people knock on the door and ask, "Is it really free?" "Yup," we say. And then we thank them for taking things. It's both fun and exciting.
This year is going to be a purging year for us. We are downsizing to the nth degree. We have too much stuff and it's time to simplify. We started today with a free sale. Within two hours five left-over playa bikes (in dire need of some love) went to new homes, as did a set of Star Trek NG VHS tapes, and books that fell victim to the first cut. There will likely be more to come. We may even go through the trouble of having an actual sale, but for now it's enough to know we were able to give something that someone else wanted.