I live in a small home. There is just so much that I can put into a space.
Feeling overwhelmed at our own accumulation and the addition of all the precious heirlooms, mementos, artwork, crafts, quilts, etc. that have been passed on to us over the years, we resolved it was time to make some tough decisions.
As we handled almost every item in the house, tool room and garden shed, we determined how it would be disposed. Trash can, E-Bay, Yard Sale, Thrift Store/Charity, etc. The no brainer decisions are easy, such as the household items that are never or seldom used or the extra beach umbrella that is still in its plastic.
And then, there are those bits and pieces of a loved one’s life that trigger memories. We find ourselves comforting one another by saying, “You don’t have to make a decision right now, honey. Just think about it.”
Ancestral Guilt: an expression I coined years ago when we went through this same process of getting rid of our excess before we retired. Our grown children were recipients of much of this ancestral guilt. This past year we accumulated more as a result of Ron’s mother’s passing and keeping far too much.
Once again, we try to come to terms with this abundance, and once again are the bits and pieces we still cling to.
Our grown children are already going through their own dilemma of what to do with the things we “gifted” them. Our son and daughter-in-law no longer needed or wanted the antique china cabinet that we gave them, a “gift” to us from a distant aunt and uncle. We even drove to Ohio from North Carolina just to pick it up. Oh the things we do. After years of using it, then storing it in the garage, our son put it in the hands of an antique dealer and it eventually sold. But, after his grandmother’s recent passing, he picked out some things that had special meaning to him and now has acquired more.
We just took two large boxes of china to our daughter this fall. It belonged to Ron’s mom and our daughter couldn’t say no. She also wanted a living room chair and a large painting that was her Grandmothers, but we could get neither in the car and had to ship them to her.
Finding homes for ones treasures brings me satisfaction. Our yard sale in late November turned into an altogether pleasant experience. I have never met such friendly, interesting people who actually asked questions and listened to stories about the item they were purchasing. I made the decision to sell a large portion of an extensive basket collection of mine. It did my heart good to see purchasers appreciative of the heritage and origin of the basket and not cheapen the transaction by asking me to lower my price.
For many years Ron and I dreamed of living aboard a sail boat. We even looked at several. I suppose our dream was experienced vicariously as our collection of books on this very subject was extensive. It was time to “let go”. Again, people at the yard sale did not let us down. Instead, they were the ones with the stories. We listened as they shared their lives on open seas and that their next adventure was forthcoming. They bought our books. The sailor wannabees bought out books. A boat builder bought our books. How satisfying to see this genre getting a second home.
Probably the most heart warming story of our recent experience of passing on personal treasures and keepsakes has come through the spirit of our community. We have donated many fine pieces of original art created by Ron’s mother to local organizations for their annual fund raisers and silent auctions at their request. How gratifying it is to walk into a large real estate office and see her lovely artwork displayed handsomely on the walls. To know the bidder enjoys the work enough to purchase it and to know the donations help island charities. Mom would be so pleased.
Have we created more space? Definitely.
Am I going to fill that space with more things? No.
We still have a layer to peel. It just takes time and heart to let go.