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Holiday stash of a different sort

December is for stashing. January is for unstashing. I realized this as I attempted to navigate my way around my walk-in closet this week, stubbing my toe on a three-drawer storage unit on wheels that holds art supplies. And trying not to knock over a vase filled with eucalyptus.

Neither of these items are usually parked there, but these are two of the things I needed to relocate to make room for holiday guests and decor.

They needed to go somewhere, and my somewhere is my closet. I won't tell you what else is in there, but I will say that previous visitors to my closet have included a rocking horse and a lamp.

Now that it is January, it is time to return all things to their proper stations. The vase has already been put back on its shelf. The three-drawer unit will soon be moved back to the first-floor closet. Our daughter keeps it stocked with construction paper, crayons, scissors and glue and rolls it over to the kitchen table when she is feeling crafty. We uprooted it in December to make room for guests' coats, however.

All this relocating may sound pretty tame, but stashing often takes on a more frantic feel. I personally believe that laundry baskets serve a far greater purpose than holding clean clothes. They are perfect for rounding up toys, papers and whatever else needs to be quickly cleared. At one point last month, I had two laundry baskets in my closet, and freshly laundered towels were the last things you would have found in them.

Attached garages located close to the kitchen also are great for stashing. I find valuable temporary storage space everywhere from the hood of my car to our daughter's big red wagon. I've even stashed items in the trunk.

Who would know?

That's the other thing about stashing places. You don't want people to know. They are absolutely off-limits.

A friend of mine, who is 7 months pregnant, tells me that on Christmas Eve she practically tackled her 5-year-old nephew who was heading upstairs with his mother.

One room was filled with dining room chairs that were removed in order to set up a buffet table. Another room had boxes of baby clothes, enough empty clothes hangers stuffed in bags to fill a department store, and more.

"Where are you going?" she asked him.

"To use the bathroom," he responded.

"Use the one on the first floor," she told him, guessing that he also had intentions of playing up there.

"The whole upstairs was a big relocation, and it is still a relocation until all the Christmas stuff comes down," she sighed.

When our daughter was a preschooler, she was absolutely intrigued by my stashing process. One summer day when we were hosting a brunch and several items had been sent upstairs, she practically offered tours of my closet once our guests arrived.

My friend, a mother of three, just laughed. She understood. Stashing is what we sometimes do.

Now that our daughter is closing in on 8, I still look at her straight in the eye before a party and say, firmly, "Do NOT go into my closet."

And she has become a bit of a stasher herself. Her latest trick is to shove her pajamas under her pillow rather than walking a few steps to hang them on the back of her door.

That's right. Blame it on the mother.

But, come on. There is stashing and then there is stashing, I tell her -- pulling out her flannel pjs patterned with flamingos.

Now clean up your room.


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