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Lesson: Blessings are better than bargains


About six weeks ago, I was prescribed a steroids pack for a mysterious injury to the ball of my foot.

I was a whirlwind of energy.

I dumped a trailer-full of junk we had accumulated in the garage over the past year. I saved what I thought would attract a crowd at a yard sale: furniture, clothing, baby toys, and large construction materials like my antique enamel sink and a set of bi-fold doors.

As a homeschooling mother, I called the yard sale an “educational opportunity.” I look for learning everywhere. And here's some for you, dear readers: You need a permit for a yard sale.

I loaded up my eldest children and headed down to City Hall to pay my requisite $15 for a permit. In bold print at the permit desk, a sign informed us that a city ordinance allows only one yard sale per year per household.

At first, I was peeved-I had thought a spring sale and a fall sale would be delightful. (Yes, I actually used the word “delightful.”

Never again!) Then, we drove on down the road to advertise in the Evening Times for $5, unless, of course, you want more than just your address. My ad was $7.

Then, we had to make signs to post at the intersection. Another $8.

On the day of the sale-this is the worst part-my husband, my girls, and I started pulling things out of the garage at the ungodly hour of 5 am. I mean, devilish.

I soon regretted quitting caffeine.

Our first customers showed up at 5:30 a.m., disregarding the ad's expressly-stated starting time of 6 am. It was still so dark that they had to use their headlights to inspect the goods!


They bought $3 worth of goods. My mother used the opportunity to unload some breakables that had made their way to her house when my bulldozer children moved in four years ago. I hadn't even had a chance to price them before the crazies scooped them up.

But I did a quick search to see what they fetched on Ebay, and the crazies were certainly not interested in paying the premium standard set by the mother-ofall- used-goods auction sites.

I did not give in. Heck, I thought, if I can sell these crystal long-stemmed roses on Ebay for $13 each, ain't no way I'm giving you eight of them for $3. Nice try, though.

Funny thing about Ebay is, you have to list it. You have to photograph it in professional light. You have to package it. You have to physically take it to the post office and stand in line and ship it.

Um, yeah. I still have the roses.

For the most part, my prices weren't high, but at 9 a.m., a mere $62 in, I began to think my 20 hours of preparing just wasn't worth it.

My poor daughter got duped, too, by the promise of high earnings at a yard sale. She chose to skip a skating night at the new Party Palace on Block Street to make cookies to sell. The poor thing was nearly in tears, bemoaning the fact that she had sold exactly zero.

None. Zilch. Nada.

In fact, her friends consumed quite a few for breakfast.

For free.

Not the education we were hoping for.

I think the most interesting thing that happened at my yard sale was the surprise emotional interaction with Annie Boston. She sorted through my kids' clothes for an hour because she has 41 grandkids and a number of great-grandkids.

“They're not all biological,” she said, “but they all call me 'Grandma,' and I accept it.”

My mother replied, “That's a real blessing!”

Then Annie Boston threw an emotional bomb on us.

“I have cancer, and I have to go to chemo again on Monday. I hate that chemo.”

My mother then did what she does best. She stood up, took Annie by the hand, and said, “I'm going to pray for you.”

Right there, in the middle of a bust of a yard sale, I was privileged to witness two grandmothers-strangers of a different race-bond through the tears of the human experience.

At that moment, in the throes of pleading prayers in quavering voice for strength and healing, two hearts glowed together in compassion and heartache, begging the One who created the body to have mercy on the one whose body was failing.

All of a sudden, my frustrations dissipated. Somehow, it turned into a blessing to be able to organize a yard sale even if I made peanuts. Good health is almost priceless, isn't it?

So is my time, though. At the end of the day, we netted just a hundred bucks.

Ready for your lesson?

That's less than minimum wage!

A donation would have taken less time and earned more money in the form of a tax deduction.

So I pulled my husband off tax duty, loaded up a trailer, and drove that mess to Hope House, silently thanking the City of Marion for saving me from this lesson a second time.

Then, I bought every last cookie from my daughter to reward her for her diligence. Because that's how the economy works in real life, right?

So much for education.

Maybe our next project will be “Selling on eBay.”

On second thought, I think I'll call our next lesson “Storing Breakables Properly.”

Dorothy Wilson lives in Marion with her husband Chris as they enjoy all of the little adventures that life with their seven children brings. This column originally appeared in the Marion Ledger.

‘The Marion Mom’ By Dorothy Wilson

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