The Mathom Pile
The Mathom-House it was called; for anything that Hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away, they called a mathom. Their dwellings were apt to become rather crowded with mathoms, and many of the presents that passed from hand to hand were of that sort.
--J. R. R. Tolkien, in the Prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring
I came across this word when I was attempting another re-read of The Lord of the Rings and decided it needed to be dusted off and put to better use. Which is rather the purpose of a Mathom Pile--to dust off and put things to better use.
Please note that there is a difference between clutter and a mathom. Clutter is stuff you're hanging on to because you haven't had a chance to take it to the thrift shop. A mathom is something you're hanging on to because you haven't gotten around to selling it on eBay because It Might Be Worth Something.
There are several locations of Goodwill within easy distance of my house. If you do have a stack of Stuff to Get Rid Of, here's how to sort out the clutter from the mathoms before you come over:
If you do have any mathoms left after your trip to Goodwill (or your favorite thrift shop--I'm not picky) bring them to the party and add them to the stack of mathoms I should already have. I may claim first dibs as the birthday girl, but otherwise anything in the Mathom Pile is free for the taking to anybody who would like it.
- Put all the stuff you're looking to let go of in a box.
- Put the stuff you're not 100% sure you want to give away on top.
- Take the box to Goodwill.
- Hand the box to the lovely people at the donation center.
- If there is a slight twinge of guilt about any item when the lovely people take the box away, it is not a mathom.
- If you snatch the item out of the box before handing it over and clutch it protectively, determined to give yourself one more chance to actually use the thing, it is a mathom.
Anything in the Mathom Pile that is not claimed by midnight will be disposed of by the hostess. (So make sure you really wanted to get rid of it.) Thank you and goodnight.
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