Dear Crabby, Can I Stop Raking My Leaves?

Dear Crabby,

I hate raking the leaves in my yard, but I feel so bad if I don’t because our yard looks ugly. What should I do?

Sincerely, Justin Justleaveit

Dear Mr. Justleaveit,

I used to feel funny when our yard looked bad at the end of the fall season, too.  All the neighbors would spend a good amount of time cleaning up their yard and making everything look perfect, then a large wind would come along and my leaves would blow all over their yard again. Sometimes I would feel guilty for hours, but then life would continue and I would go back to my television programs. I even had a couple neighbors complain about my leaves. I simply told them that I didn’t make the silly things, and if they had an issue, I could get them in contact with the Guy who did. That kept them quiet for a quite a while. Then one day, I saw this program about how old leaves will eventually break down and become fertilizer for the grass and other plants if you leave them alone long enough. So I shared that little tidbit with my neighbor friends as well. Nowadays, they don’t even expect me to clean up anything, and I no longer feel guilty.  In fact, a few neighbors have even joined my ranks and now leave their yards to nature like I do. You know, it’s kind of like when my kids were little and all their friends’ dads would make big deals out of the holidays or buy them extravagant gifts. I would simply tell my kids that I wasn’t that kind of dad. Eventually they stopped expecting anything from me and the pressure was off. The same goes for Mrs. Crabby. After thoroughly disappointing her several times, the bar was set much lower and we were all happier than when we had unmet expectations. It has become my life’s motto to think, “If you can’t or won’t join them, then beat them some other way!”  In school growing up, the other kids typically earned “A’s” and “B’s,” and their parents would be so disappointed with a “C.” So, I figured if my parents were accustomed to seeing my “C’s,” then the occasional “B” was cause for celebration! It’s all a matter of what people are used to – give them what they want, and they will always expect it, but disappoint them from the get go and you have nothing you have to measure up to. Think about it – it makes life a whole lot simpler.

Sincerely, Dear Crabby

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Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at

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