I don’t need to read all those best-selling books about the joys of throwing stuff out. I’m skilled at that. I’ve been forced to retrieve more than one thing from the dumpster.

I’ve watched my husband weep as I harshly sorted his clothes into stay-or-go piles.

I like empty drawers. I open them and admire their emptiness. I’ve been accused of running a motel with no customers.

I don’t store stuff under beds. That space is reserved for dust bunnies and scared cats.

But – and this is a big but – just this morning I went to my really nice closet that holds miscellaneous stuff. As I was organizing my ribbons, I saw it.

It was a tiny box. It wasn’t labeled but it was, nevertheless, a box of “string too short to use.”

Over the years, I’ve heard friends talk about cleaning out their parents’ houses and finding boxes marked with those very words.

We were all horrified and vowed never to do anything like that. We’d laugh and say, “Why? What were they thinking? Surely this is the stuff of myth. We’ll never do that to our children!”

Well, it’s not myth. It happened. To me. Those little bits and pieces of ribbon found their way into their very own box in my special closet.

My wise and somewhat frugal mother-in-law had a box in her kitchen pantry. It was marked “Light Bulbs. New in front, Old in rear.”

I was confused and a bit worried about that until one day, when I was alone in her house, I decided to take a peek.

Turns out, there was a simple answer. The “old” light bulbs were three-way bulbs. Each one had an element that had burned out.

But they didn’t need to be pitched. They still had life and value. Just not as much as they started with.

Simple. Frugal. Wise.

I’m not going that far but I’m not about to toss out those little pieces of ribbons. They, too, still have life and value. They’re just not as long as they used to be.

And the children will just have to deal with it when the time comes.

Sallie Collins enjoys living on the banks of the May River and writes about it in her blog, www.LifeOnTheMay.com, from which this article is taken.