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Stania relieved us of our burden when she told us that our obligation to a gift-giver ends with our gracious acceptance of their gift. Whether we choose to use it, sell it, or give it to someone else has nothing to do with our appreciation for the gift-giver's good intentions.

It's easy to make a list of things to do away with but not so easy to actually do away with them. I thought we were off to a good start because David had already sold a few pieces of furniture on craigslist. I was beginning to feel in control of our situation and confident in our abilities. But last night, while thumbing through the latest of a growing mountain of home decor magazines (our new pornography), David suggested we bring in an interior design professional.

"Particularly," he noted, "someone who won't keep insisting that your Italian sofas are part of the 'New Modernism.' "

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