Joanna reveals her secret shame

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I am a hoarder. There, I said it. Quick, call The Learning Channel! I’m finally out off the cabinet, my shame uncovered.

Whenever I happen to surf the channels and land on TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive,” I always cringe and think, “how can anyone live like that?” How is it possible to not only amass all that stuff, but to never toss it away — it boggles my imagination.

But then this past weekend happened, when the new china cabinet arrived, and I discovered it isn’t so impossible after all.

When we remodeled our home long ago and far away, I packed all the knickknacks, whatnots, and tchotchkes away. Not all the items were mine — some had belonged to my mother, and I guess I didn’t have the heart to throw them away — but whatever the reason, there they were, neatly stowed away.

Reasoning that it wouldn’t be long before we bought a new dining room set and I would unpack all the little treasures, nothing — and I mean nothing — suffered the toss of death into the garbage can.

But you know what they say about man’s plans. The new dining room took 10 years to purchase and for all that time the treasures sat buried, until this past weekend when I unearthed the relics. Like Indiana Jones on a dig, I carefully pulled the layers of bubble wrap away.

I oohed and aahed over each prize as if it was the Holy Grail. And it was at that moment that it occurred to me that there really was only a few degrees of separation between myself and those people showcased on the hoarder show.

I didn’t want to get rid of anything, either.

The more I unwrapped, the harder it was for me to toss. When I teared up over bits and pieces of a broken jelly jar, I knew I had a problem.

At that “aha” moment, I steeled myself to the task, my urge to purge took hold, and nothing — and I mean nothing — was sacred.

Out went the old happy birthday signs, broken and used birthday candles, old and yellowed newspaper clippings of “The Night Before Christmas” (yeah, I know it’s printed every year), and yes, even the wedding favors of people that I have no idea of who they are, complete with the little stale almonds still wrapped in them. Out they all went.

Not for Nuthin,™ I admit it took a lot of courage for me to toss it all and I still have a few more boxes left to unearth, so I don’t know if I’m fully cured yet, but I do know that the next time “Hoarding: Buried Alive” comes on I will have a whole lot more sympathy for those folks than I did before.

Joanna DelBuono writes about national issues every Wednesday on E-mail her at
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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