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the occasions lady and

A Holiday Dumpster Dive
by Audrey Poff, illustration by Brittney Guest

Like many of you, I have many fond memories of Thanksgivings spent with friends and family watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, sharing the traditional meal and coming up with a strategy for Black Friday shopping. It’s one of my favorite holidays. Recently, however, I got a glimpse of a Thanksgiving memory that was not so picture perfect.

Leading up to initiation week for our youngest daughter, Sophie, one of her sorority sisters posted a screenshot last month of a photo from Thanksgiving 2016. It wasn’t a photo of family members gathered around the table or a scrumptious pumpkin pie on the dessert table. Instead, it was a photo of Sophie standing in a dumpster in the middle of Downtown Jonesboro. I knew the backstory, but I had never seen photographic evidence of the incident.

We are blessed to have two thoughtful daughters who offer to help clean the house before the holidays while we work with the Occasions staff to get everything sent to press. Our oldest daughter, Emma, has always had her own style of cleaning, and as best we can tell, taught Sophie her method of tidying up a few years ago.

While effective at surface level, Emma’s method of cleaning is nothing similar to Marie Kondo’s approach to organization, which encourages tidying up by category. Emma’s approach is simple but unique. Simply put, if you are tidying up and come across an item that doesn’t belong to you, or if you don’t know what the item is, it can be tossed.

A week or two before Thanksgiving, Rodney and I had purchased several gifts for family members, as well as gifts for our first grandson, Mason, who was due that January. All of those gifts were sitting on one end of the couch waiting to be wrapped. On Thanksgiving morning, I realized all of the packages had disappeared.

Upon our interrogation of the girls, we learned that not only had the packages been tossed in the cleaning process, they had most likely been deposited in the dumpster behind our office downtown. We were shocked, but considering the fact that we were about to host Thanksgiving, the girls were simply encouraged to do whatever necessary to find the gifts and return them to our house as soon as possible.

I’m not sure how Emma managed to talk her younger sister into diving into the dumpster to do the dirty work, but it was Sophie who ended up retrieving most of the gifts. Although some of the packages were never found, fortunately the ones that the girls reclaimed were undamaged.

That, my friends, is how we managed to incorporate a holiday dumpster dive into our Thanksgiving celebration four years ago. When Sophie surfaced from the rubbish with some of the discarded gifts, Emma was kind enough to document the moment in photos.

There is always something for which to be thankful, and a Thanksgiving without a dumpster dive is one of them.