January 23, 2013

New Year means sorting and organizing

SUSAN TOBIAS, Pinch of Time

---- — January is the one month of the year when I seriously sort and organize,

one of my hobbies. I’m not sure if it’s because outside work is impossible or if it’s just too darn cold. 

I start with my books and magazines. The only danger in sorting is to not — under any circumstances — stop to read what you are sorting. Nine times out of 10 that means an elongated period of tearing pages out of magazines for recipes, hints or whatever, which presents another organizing problem: what to do with them? 

Beware if you are sorting out old keepsake boxes (the grown kids’ first-grade artwork), closets or trunks: Stopping to reminisce will lead you to keeping most of what you originally planned to throw away.

Among the dictionaries, genealogy books and variety of Bibles I have on my bookshelves, I found a 2002 copy of Chase’s Calendar of Events. I figured a publication 11 years old surely should be in the recycling bin by day’s end, until I started flipping through it. In January, alone, I was amazed at the “holidays” we celebrate and “events” that we observe. 

Some of these events, such as “Senior Spirit” month, are inspiring. The focus is on “senior women’s second chances.” It encourages women to build a whole new life starting with not dressing your age, changing your attitude, making new friends, sharing your problems or lending a helping hand. Most of that is good advice, but I’m not so sure about not dressing my age.

On Jan. 3 we are reminded to celebrate the anniversary of “Queen for a Day,” the 1956 television show that awarded prizes to the woman who could present the saddest story of misfortune, and what she thought the solution was. The audience would vote by their applause, registered by an applause meter that would indicate the winner.

Suddenly from stage-left, a red robe, scepter and crown would appear, making her queen for the day. Later, a new washing machine, an electric stove or refrigerator, or whatever was needed, would be delivered to her house as the solution to her problem. I often wondered if that really made her happy.

How about “National Handwriting Analysis Week,” celebrated around John Hancock’s birthday, or “I’m Not Going to Take it Anymore Day.” 

I like “National Joygerm Day,” when joygerms all over the world unfurl their banners and invite “crusty curmudgeons, cagey killjoys, the pale and peaked with a penchant for peevishness, the tired, tense and timid to mingle with a myriad of merry mirthmakers, happy huggers, gallant gigglers and soothing sunny smilers.” (Say that three times fast.) The founder is Joan E. White of Syracuse. She must be fun to have as a friend.

You missed “National Nothing Day” on Jan. 16 and “Tin Can Patent Anniversary” on Jan. 19 (1825). 

You could stretch a date and still celebrate “National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day,” which was yesterday. The event founders say: “If you will stop what you are doing and take a look at your cat, you will observe that the cat is looking at you with a serious question. Meditate upon it, then answer the question.” Seems easy enough, right?

In case you haven’t said anything nice to anyone today, get to it. This is “National Compliment Day.” Compliment at least five people to qualify. 

“A Room of One’s Own Day” is Jan. 25, but I think Jan. 27 is my favorite. Are you ready for this? It will be “National Thomas Crapper Day.” Seriously. 

Chase’s states that Thomas Crapper was born in 1836 in Thorne, Yorkshire, England, and “is often described as the prime developer of the flush-toilet mechanism as it is known today. The flush toilet had been in use for more than 100 years, but Crapper perfected it.” He was the founder of Thomas Crapper & Co. in London in 1861, and later patented and manufactured sanitary appliances. He died on Jan. 27, 1910, thus the celebration. There is an International Thomas Crapper Society if you care to join. 

Well, I bet you didn’t know that, did you? I think I’ll put this book back on the shelf; could come in handy some day.

One last thought, as always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.

Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been a Press-Republican newsroom employee since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at