She’s Not From Around Here: Trash Christmas

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My favorite biannual holiday starts on Monday.
That’s right, I’m talking about Trash Christmas.
I know a lot of new folks have moved into Minot since the last Trash Christmas, so I thought it only fair to write about it again. (Read my first article on Spring Trash Christmas, here.) Isn’t letting all these newcomers know about one of our dearest city traditions the right thing to do? Yes. Yes, it is.


Ahhhh, Trash Christmas. That magical time of year when Minot’s curbs fill with cast off items, and we all rubberneck stacks of refuse as we drive by. If you want to get technical, it’s really called, “Clean Up Week.” However, I think “Trash Christmas’ is a bit catchier—and I’m hoping the name will stick.


Clean Up Week happens twice each year: spring and fall. Clean Up Week is a time when the sanitation department (read: garbage saints) will come and collect large or bulk items at no cost. It’s a service to residents in that it saves on landfill fees and eliminates the hassle of getting things to the landfill for dumping. This is especially handy for those odd items that don’t fit into your traditional trash bin—like the ottoman your cat scratched to bits, the garage fridge that went kaput, or that area rug that has seen one too many juice spills or puppy accidents.


According to the city website, items that can go to the curb include, “Household quantities of bulky and household items – items at the end of their useful life, such as appliances, furniture, junk, etc.” The reality of Trash Christmas is much looser, though. In addition to items that have run their course, you’ll find lots, and I do mean LOTS, of things on the curb with plenty of use left.


This leads to the best part about the Trash Christmas holidays: a week of slow-moving cars, trucks, SUV, and even vehicles towing trailers—all trolling neighborhoods looking for items they didn’t know they needed but can’t live without. Trash Christmas just may be the closest thing Minot has to an actual recycling program.


No, there isn’t a convenient way to recycle your plastics, or soup cans—but twice a year, you can put your child’s faded, play kitchen on the curb, knowing it will likely be given a second life. We may not be making milk jugs into park benches, but we sure know how to clean up someone else’s old lawn chair and dub it “patio furniture.”


During Trash Christmas, picking through each other’s cast offs isn’t just “okay,” it’s expected. This is part of our culture—and if you’re new here, brace yourself. There are basically three options:
1) Decide that this is too awkward and uncomfortable; call your family back home to tell them about the weird place you moved to.
2) Understand that it’s weird, quietly move your junk to the curb, and ignore the pickers combing the streets.
3) Accept that it’s weird, but overcome that awkward feeling inside, and pull over to pick up that only-gently-used grill you find on the side of the road next week.
I can almost guarantee you’ll feel uncomfortable every time you stop. I’ve been partaking in Trash Christmas for years, and still get a gooey stomach feeling when I stop to pick something up. Am I stealing? Is this wrong? I should be embarrassed about this, right?


Those thoughts may never leave you, but they shouldn’t prevent you from taking a deep, dumpster dive into your new culture. You’re a Minotian, now. Finding Trash Christmas treasures is your right as a resident. This is your place, and we—the Clean Up Week picking folks of the Magic City—are your people.
Best of luck next week. Please, oh please tag me in your Clean Up Week shenanigans on social media. You can catch my Trash Christmas adventures, and more inspiration for positive living on Instagram (@amy_allender) or Facebook (@amyallenderblog).

This plastic came into my life during Spring Trash Christmas. It’s in near constant use at my house, and is to date one of my best finds. Amy Allender Photo

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