Stallard

What is it about a new year making everyone decide to make changes?

I’m not talking about something as small as changing our socks. I’m talking big, big changes. Losing weight. Ditching bad habits. Saving money. Taking up a new hobby. Mending relationships.

All are great ideas, but they’re stuff we could do at any time over a 365-day period. We choose instead to wait until Jan. 1. Every danged year.

Why is that? Is it because deep down, we really don’t want to change those things, so we put them off until the very last minute of the year? Or is it because if we call ’em “resolutions” we know we’re not gonna keep ’em? The New York Post claims the average New Year’s resolution doesn’t last past Feb. 1. Seems pretty long to me, but whatever.

So I’m gonna make some solemn vow to get my act together — knowing I can go right back to being a heathen after only a month? Make a promise knowing I’m gonna break it?

Sure does help alleviate the pressure, right? I can handle that. Heck, I’ll go ahead and resolve not to have pizza and wings for breakfast any more. Then I’ll dial up my favorite pizza delivery place the morning of Jan. 2.

Hey, this is easy.

But hold up. There’s a catch. There’s always a catch, especially when it comes to figuring out what to change in the New Year.

Along with resolutions this time of the year, there seems to be a worldwide attitude of “Out with the old, in with the new.” Getting rid of stuff we don’t use or need any more and replacing it with something more useful or practical.

I don’t know who came up with the idea, but I wish my wife hadn’t heard about it. “Out with the old …” is exactly how I found myself locked out of my own house. My lady didn’t even bother dragging me down to the curb for a garbage pickup.

Naturally, the topic has arisen again around my homestead. She asked, so I promised I’d help her “declutter” and get rid of stuff we don’t need.

I just ain’t walking outside again, just in case.

Her proposal is for me to go through my dresser drawers and closets and remove everything I don’t need. There’s stuff in there, she points out, that I never wear. She’s right, of course.

Sounds easy — until I start rummaging through everything.

Yes, I’ve got too many socks. I like the athletic dri-fit socks since I spend so much time outdoors. I’ve got way too many. Should be easy to discard some, right?

Nope. Someone working in those companies decided to make an actual left and right sock for each pair. Seriously. They’ve all got a little “L” and “R” on ’em, and they’re made to fit a certain way. Now, think of the eternal mystery involving lost socks (Dryer Land, anyone?) and how hard it is to find matches. Toss in having to match feet, and I’m screwed. I’ve got eleventy billion left feet (same as when I try to dance). I can’t find any for my right foot. Common sense — and my wife — says it’s time to regroup and buy new ones. Just so I can do this again next year, right?

Then there’s my underwear. All mine are old and suitable for church. They’re holey. I don’t care, but she does. What if I’m in a car accident and end up in the hospital? Those doctors and nurses are gonna think she doesn’t take care of me.

If I’m in the hospital after an accident, I ain’t gonna worry about the condition of my draws. Trust me.

It took years to break those undies in right so they’re not turning into wedgies every time I move. Why would I ditch ’em just because they’re air-conditioned now?

Nope. She’s already walking them to the trashcan. I’d follow and help, but I ain’t going back outside.

I’ve also got too many shoes. I don’t know how this happened. I must have thought I needed extra shoes to match all those left-footed socks. Truthfully, there are only a few pairs I actually wear. Sneakers for covering sports. My favorite pull-on boots for bad weather. A pair of dress shoes for special occasions. And, of course, my Crocs. They’re multi-purpose. I wear ’em as house shoes, or when going somewhere fancy like Walmart.

The others? They’re taking up space, just waiting to see if I’m actually gonna follow through with a New Year’s resolution to start running. (Hint: It ain’t gonna happen.)

Then there is my collection of shirts. Got some I wear when teaching classes. Got others I wear when covering sports. Got shirts just for special occasions when I gotta dress like a civilized human.

All the others clogging my closet? They’re lonely. I got stuff in there I haven’t worn in 20 years. But that Cowboys sweatshirt was what I was wearing the last time the team won a Super Bowl. How could I ever get rid of it? Same with my 100-year-old concert T-shirts. They don’t fit any more, and they’re old and faded, but if my wife threw out every old, wrinkled and faded thing in our house, I’d get locked outside again.

By far my worst collection of clutter comes with my stash of caps. I don’t wear anything else on my head other than baseball caps, but I’ve got way too many to count. Caps from my favorite sports teams. Caps from places I’ve visited. Caps I wear when out playing golf, and others I only wear for fishing or yard work. Marine Corps caps my wife and kids have bought me as gifts.

No, I don’t wear ’em all. I’ve only got one head. Duh.

Some are crusty and sweat-stained. A lot of ’em have shrunk after I got caught in the rain. Others haven’t even made it atop my head yet, and probably never will.

So why keep ’em? Why keep any of the stuff I don’t use?

One answer is sentimental value. If it was a gift, I can’t make myself get rid of it. Probably the same reason my wife keeps letting me back inside the house.

I guess New Year’s is as good a time as any to focus on decluttering. My lady has already done her share, cleaning out closets and donating great items to various organizations. She’s got so much more room now, which is plenty of incentive for me to do the same. She’s not a materialistic person at all, so there’s more “out with the old” part to her efforts than there is a desire for any “in with the new.”

Fine. I’ll do it. I’ll donate stuff someone can actually use, and I’ll — gulp — throw away my holey underwear, left-footed socks and crusty caps. I’ll find good use for all the extra space. I’ll try not to cry when my ancient Braves cap (so old one can’t even read the logo) disappears into the trash heap.

I’ll do it.

I just ain’t walking outside while my wife is still inside.