Af­ter the hol­i­days, it’s waste not, want not


My hus­band and I at­tended a party shortly be­fore Christ­mas. On the menu were roasted oys­ters. They were cooked over a fire and dumped on ta­bles out­side. There were holes in the ta­bles, and those en­joy­ing the fresh seafood could de­posit their shells into the holes in the mid­dle of the ta­bles. They landed in trash cans. (It was a lovely party, by the way, with fried fish, a great salad, dessert and lots of other good­ies. Not to men­tion the great com­pany.)

My hus­band hates to see any­thing go to waste. He made a deal with the hosts, and the next morn­ing he was back at their house to col­lect the trash cans full of oys­ter shells.

The hosts were prob­a­bly a lit­tle con­fused, but not sur­prised. They know my hus­band and his propen­sity for col­lect­ing stuff that oth­ers might con­sider un­wanted. I am sure they were glad they did not have to haul away trash cans full of smelly shells.

My hus­band took them to the cabin and used them to fill holes in the drive­way caused by ero­sion. I know it may sound crazy, but the shells ac­tu­ally do a good job of fill­ing in the holes, and they do not wash away.

Speak­ing of waste not, want not, I usu­ally have tons of left­overs af­ter Christ­mas, but this year was an ex­cep­tion. I don’t know if it was be­cause we fed so many or be­cause my hus­band is fi­nally learn­ing not to cook too much. It might have been be­cause my older daugh­ter was help­ing with the cleanup. She doesn’t be­lieve in left­overs and loves to throw away.

Any­way, hat­ing to see any­thing go­ing to waste, my hus­band makes me wash and col­lect mar­garine and cot­tage cheese con­tain­ers. I put them all to good use on Christ­mas Day. I pulled them out of the cab­i­net and filled them with left­overs and piled my re­frig­er­a­tor full of mys­tery con­tain­ers.

First, it was a good sign that the left­overs fit in those small con­tain­ers.

Sec­ond, it was some­what an­noy­ing in the morn­ings when I toasted my English muf­fin and then went search­ing the re­frig­er­a­tor for mar­garine. My poor English muf­fin got cold while I opened con­tainer af­ter con­tainer, only to find but­ter peas or cran­berry sauce. I usu­ally didn’t get to mar­garine un­til the third or fourth try. I also spilled a large dol­lop of my hus­band’s very spicy tomato sauce. (Again, waste not, want not. He had a bumper crop of toma­toes this year.)

But fi­nally, it was a good thing be­cause my hus­band steadily worked his way through those plas­tic con­tain­ers, at least un­til the weekend. I am sure there were at least 10 of them.

It was kind of like eat­ing at the Au­tomat blind. You never knew what was in a con­tainer un­til you opened it. And by then I was so con­fused I just ate what was in the tub I opened.

I knew we were al­most at the end of the Christ­mas left­overs when I opened a plas­tic con­tainer la­beled cot­tage cheese and, much to my sur­prise, it was filled with cot­tage cheese.

My re­frig­er­a­tor is get­ting pretty bare. He ate at the cabin New Year’s Day, so most of those left­overs are still there. He will bring them home sooner or later.

I am a Yan­kee and don’t care for boiled greens or even black-eyed peas, so I didn’t grieve about not par­tak­ing in the tra­di­tional meal for New Year’s Day.

I have washed most of those plas­tic con­tain­ers and shoved them into the kitchen cab­i­nets any­where I can find room. They will stay there and be used oc­ca­sion­ally un­til this sum­mer.

I will clean out my kitchen cab­i­nets and throw out a large por­tion of those con­tain­ers. Sur­rep­ti­tiously. My hus­band would have a heart at­tack if he ac­tu­ally saw a plas­tic con­tainer or mar­garine tub in the trash.

But not to worry; they will add up again, and there will be plenty there for Christ­mas.

Am I the only one who has to hide things in the trash? My hus­band ac­tu­ally goes through the re­cy­cling to make sure I have not thrown away a cat­a­log he wants to keep.

Paula Travis is a re­tired teacher from the Newton County School Sys­tem. She can be reached at ptravis@ cov­

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