Many couples who raised a family and suddenly find themselves empty-nesters tend to find something else other than just peace and quiet.  They find their kitchen cabinets look as though they raised the Brady Bunch under their roof.  Shelves are packed with cups and glasses and bowls and plates comparable to the kitchen at a Cracker Barrel.  Unlike Cracker Barrel, all the cups, glasses, bowls and plates are mismatched and there is not one complete set to be found.

There are usually five large water tumblers remaining from a set of eight purchased a decade ago.  There are six regular-sized juice glasses that originated from a set of ten.  Only four iced tea glasses from a set of six have survived.  And then there are glasses whose origins are unknown and whose shapes make it difficult to place in a uniform pattern.

So how did so many glasses meet their demise?  Some came to unfortunate ends within the confines of the dishwasher.  Large mixing bowls or sturdy pots can inflict much harm on defenseless glassware when they are bounced around the jet stream of a Kenmore wash cycle. 

Others have been set on the hood of vehicles as we open our car doors, never to be seen again until an ill-fated jogger is sent to the ER after discovering the remains of the glass on the path of his running route.   

A few more have disappeared down at the creek when our children discovered a large glass or plastic cup is the perfect implement for scooping up minnows, salamanders and crawdads.

Over the years, a family acquires dozens of orphaned glasses that clutter cabinets.  Some are of the ten-cent yard sale variety.  Others are those strangely shaped Flintstone glasses we got from McDonald’s or the hurricane glasses we took home after we finished a Friendly’s hot fudge sundae. 

Why have we become a society incapable of throwing away a jelly, jam, or preserves jar?  After the sticky contents are consumed, we wash out the jar, scrape off the price tag and add it to our already overflowing supply of glasses.

There are approximately nineteen different coffee cups and mugs.  If we received a daily delivery of Krispy Kreme doughnuts to our house and dispatched a message to local law enforcement officials, we could easily open a 24-hour doughnut shop.

Why do manufacturers continue to put eight saucers in a 40-piece place setting?  Besides bridge players and the cast of Downton Abbey, who really thinks about following proper etiquette by setting a saucer under his or her coffee cup?  Early in the morning, I prefer my coffee in a 5-gallon bucket and there are no appropriate saucers for such a wakeup call except perhaps a Frisbee.  I have a set of six saucers that sit neglected on the top shelf of a cabinet.  And the remaining two saucers?  One is in the living room beneath a ceramic pot that holds an orchid.  The other one is on my nightstand to catch the spare change extracted from my pockets at the end of the day.  

Every issue of Better Homes and Gardens features a photo spread where The Smiths have renovated their 1960’s kitchen and replaced the beige metal cabinets with glass fronted ones.  Through the glass one sees perfectly placed glasses, plates, coffee cups and saucers—all in hues that correspond with the wall and trim colors.  Who lives here?  It is obvious The Smiths eat every meal out and never drink juice from their fridge or water from their faucet.  And where do they hide the Disney-themed plastic cups from Burger King or the large coffee mugs which are inscribed with “My parents went to Dollywood and all I got was this stupid mug?”  In normal houses, cabinets are for hiding glasses, cups, and mugs; not for displaying a mismatched menagerie.

Lower cabinets are for holding the Pyrex dishes, pie plates, pots and pans, and Tupperware.  What is it with Tupperware?  These promiscuous containers seem to get together every night and cause a receptacle population explosion our cabinets cannot contain. 

Open the cabinets and a tidal wave of plastic containers with that famous burp-tight seal will knock you over like the wave that capsized the S.S. Poseidon.  In an instant, you can put your hands on a piece of Tupperware in which to store leftover spaghetti, but then you spend thirty minutes searching for the lid that fits it.  That’s why I rarely have leftovers; it’s easier to eat them than save them.  

At the end of the day, it amazes me how the Looney Tunes’ jelly jars, every yard sale mug, each glass and plate and bowl and The Lion King cups are all used and find themselves sitting on the counter or placed in the sink.  I am certain that while out of the house, my dog and cats throw lavish parties of Jay Gatsby proportions for all the pets in the neighborhood.  Who else could be using this stuff? 

If you’re finding your cabinets overflowing with mismatched glasses, containers, and dinnerware and feel like the Brady Bunch is living in your house, maybe we could call on some helpful tips about kitchen cabinet organization from Alice, the world’s most famous housekeeper.  Somehow, she was able to take care of all the kitchen activities for Mike, Carol, Greg, Marsha, Jan, Peter, Bobby and Cindy and still have plenty of time left over for Sam the Butcher.

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