I don’t go to garage sales for a reason: I have enough junk. Apparently my kids don’t.

“Mom!” my eight year old daughter shrieked happily when she looked out our living room window last Saturday. “A garage sale!”

“Again?” I asked as I saw the people milling around tables of stuff at my neighbors house across the street. “They had one last month.”

“Can we go?” she asked.

“I’m trying to get rid of stuff,” I responded. “I can guarantee you there’s nothing over there we need.”

Since the beginning of the year I’d been slowly going through drawers, closets and boxes, purging our home of unused and unwanted items. The last thing I wanted was someone else’s undesirables.

“Please mom! Can we just look?” she pleaded. “We’ll take our own money.”

“Fine,” I relented. “But please don’t buy just anything. If it’s not extraordinarily special to you, we don’t have room for it.”

“Okay, Mom!” she agreed and ran downstairs excitedly to get her 11 year old brother.

Ten minutes later she returned with a giant stuffed gorilla as big as herself.

“Look what I got!” she yelled, walking through the door. “It was only four bucks!”

My son came in behind her with a big bargain of his own. His was an electrical racing track system with so many pieces that my head hurt imagining them strewn around the house.

“It was only two bucks!” he said. “Can you believe it? In the store it would have been a hundred. Everything’s so cheap there!”

Despite my reluctance, I quickly had to admit that both purchases turned out to be money well spent. Daisy immediately dressed her gorilla up and had a delightful tea party with him in the bedroom before reading him a few books. Sam set up his race track and played with it for hours. And I was left uninterrupted to organize more of the house and throw things into the give-away pile.

“Can we have a garage sale?” my son asked later that day when he saw what I was doing.

I disliked having garage sales even more than going to them. “No,” I replied. “I’d rather just give it to charity.” Remembering we’d had this conversation before, he didn’t bother trying to change my mind.

But I wasn’t always such a yard sale scrooge. Once upon a time I loved making the rounds on a Saturday morning with a hot cup of coffee in hand. Particularly when I had a new home or when I was a new mom and needed lots of things on a limited budget. I remember those moments of feeling excited after finding great items at a fraction of their worth.

That was years ago though. Now we have too much and I’m in a constant state of wanting to simplify. My new motto at this stage of my life is “less stuff, less clutter, less cleaning.”

Right now nothing comes into the house unless we need it. Unless, of course, it’s extraordinarily special. Like a giant stuffed gorilla or an electric racing track system.