Just recently, at an auction, I was reminded by a friend that I didn’t need another set of lovely old china. Can’t friends be a pain in the neck? Of course, she was right.
Older folks can be prone to keeping things. Some family members will call it stuff or junk, but we become attached to things that have good memories or were gifts of love.
Sometimes family or friends leave things at your house to “keep” for them. They move on, and you have their things languishing in the attic. Give them a call.
Lately, more folks are downsizing by moving to smaller homes or apartments. I have talked to some who have done so, and they love the freedom of not being the caretaker of all those items ... and enjoy the simpler feel of less. Others have shared they should just clean out or have a sale.
We should be are aware that most of the younger generations don’t value an entire house of generations of belongings. What do all these things — linens, statues, figurines, salt and pepper shakers, china, crystal, furniture, generational clothes — really mean to us? How will our kids, or other responsible people, react when they have to sort all this? Oh, someone will have to sort it out. (A little clue, no one stays here.) Yes, somebody will have to inventory, sort, box, move, sell or give away our things.
It is time for a tough talk with ourselves. Truly assess what should stay and what should go. Take your time. Have a close friend help you make decisions. I have talked before about sharing our thoughts, plans and wishes with our loved ones. Now is the time to talk to them about all the “stuff.”
Of course, this is painful for some, but they will thank you later. Make it a relaxed conversation and find out what each would like to have. You can offer the item now, then both of you can enjoy it.
Some things have a short shelf life, so give it now. Look at albums and scrapbooks, and if your folks won’t recognize locations or people, let them go. Of course, try to name all the family photos, the ancestors or that strange uncle in the family. Not that you could have any strange relatives!
You may discover important papers that should be filed with an attorney or person who will be responsible for your estate.
Please think of local museums, libraries and genealogy groups that can use photos, artifacts, clothing and books of historical significance. Visit with these groups and see what they can use.
Yes, letting go is hard, but look at the positive. You have chosen and found a beloved place for everything. Now, you’ll have to excuse me, I have to go up to the attic, then the basement, then ...
And oh yes, remember to be kind.
Nedda Simon of rural Princeton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.