Published May 12, 2022

She's Not From Around Here: Trash Christmas

Written by
Amy Allender
| The Dakotan
Hauling items for Trash Christmas out of my creepy basement [Photo: Amy Allender]
Hauling items for Trash Christmas out of my creepy basement [Photo: Amy Allender]

Something magical week is nearly upon us in the Magic City. It’s that special time of year that yields surprises, laughter, and neighborly cheer. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of loss, joy, victory and disappointment. It’s one of the traditions I found incredibly odd when I was a naive newcomer, and one that has become something I await with anticipation.

I’m talking about Spring Clean Up Week. Or as I like to call it: Trash Christmas.

If you’re new, let me fill you in. Minot holds two Clean Up Weeks each calendar year, one in the spring and one in the fall. During these weeks you can put nearly anything out on your curb and the city will come collect it for you. Large items you’d normally need to haul to the dump or arrange for pickup (for a fee) are taken away free of charge. It’s a great service to the community.

But like most things in Minot, this bulk-waste collection has quirks.

Clean Up Week is really a thinly veiled chance for us pick through one another’s cast offs.

I was caught off guard during my first Clean Up Week. I’d see cars slowly driving around the neighborhood, stopping to survey discarded items along the curb. At first I thought it was an isolated incident. But then I noticed car after car doing the same thing. Spring and fall they came, sifting through furniture, shelving units, grills and cabinets. They came in pickups, beaters, nice SUVs and family vans. All kinds of people, all walks of life.

That’s when I realized: looking at each other’s junk during Clean Up Week is a thing here. This is something people do around here. Is this place for real?

The learning curve of life in Minot can be awfully steep sometimes.

Once I realized Clean Up Week was an unglorified thrift-fest, I skeptically got on board. When I pulled over to put a metal shelf for my basement in the back of my Equinox, I felt awkward and uncivilized.

Is this really okay? Shouldn’t I pay someone for this?

“Need help loading that?” a man across the street hollered.

“No. It just seems weird. I just take it?” I replied.

“Yep. It’s all going to the dump, otherwise. Better you using it than sitting in the landfill, right?”

He was right.

I dubbed the event, Trash Christmas — a name which has stuck so well, my four year old son frequently asks if Trash Christmas is coming soon, and what we have to put out for Trash Christmas.

We have gotten a lot of mileage out of a sandbox I scored at last Spring Trash Christmas. [Photo: Amy Allender]

Once you know that Clean Up Week is really Trash Christmas, your perspective changes. Suddenly, you’ll feel a little disappointed if no one even stops to look at your curb pile. They took Janet’s plastic planters, but no one is even stopping to consider the only partially broken cabinet from our bathroom remodel?

You’ll feel the adrenaline rush of discovering a perfectly good — if very faded — Fisher Price picnic table while out on a walk. Will it still be there when you come back with a car? While driving back, you notice a nearly pristine garden bench. You only have room for one. Do you take the bench, betting the picnic table has already been snatched? Do you gamble leaving the bench in hopes you’ll have outdoor seating for your kids? How will you choose? And, wait — is that a carry-on suitcase across the street? Could that bit of red be a Little People barn down the block?

The excitement rivals that of Daryl’s Racing Pigs at the state fair or passive aggressively vying for books at the library sale.

A friend asked if I could pick up these Little People castles during Fall Trash Christmas when she couldn't get there before the city collection date. [Photo: Amy Allender]

Trash Christmas has given me shelving units, a grill, the blackout curtains hanging in my bedroom (still in their package with tags on!), benches for my yard, a Fisher Price work bench for my kids. It’s magical. You never know what you’ll see out there.

Trash Christmas brings out the best of our thrifty Midwest ways and I’m here for it. Let it bring out your inner dumpster diver. And if you just can’t do it, please remember to bring your unwanted junk to the curb so the rest of us can see if we need any of it. At the very least, grab a soda and watch as cars crawl through neighborhoods and drivers crane their necks to get a good look at what might be sitting along the street.

Trash Christmas kicks off Monday May 16. Check the city website or social pages for details. Join me on Instagram, @amy_allender where I’ll be sharing my Trach Christmas adventures.

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