We will all face this task one way or the other. Either our parents will pass away, or they will downsize, and they will be unable to complete this task without help. After going through this with my own parents, and now my husband’s parents, I have some tips for my generation. I hope you can find humor in them. The Greatest Generation faced a lot of fear and loss during their lifetimes. As a result, they became very self-sufficient. Part of this entailed saving everything, and I mean everything. When they went to the store and bought something, the bag was folded neatly and saved. When they put oil in their car, the can was put into a rain barrel and saved. I should know, my father had eight rain barrels of oil cans and my inlaws had bag after bag after bag saved in…you guessed it, a bag.
I found cans of buttons, receipts from 1955 (for tax purposes, of course), and I found used pens and pencils. Lots of used pens and pencils. Oh, there were bushels of unused note pads, boxes of tea towels to embroider, totes of tools with multiples of each and every kind imaginable. Do you need a tape measure? What kind? I have several.
My tip for you is this. Don’t do this to your kids. They will not need a plastic bag from 2000 when you pass away.
Fine china dishes
Something else both families had plenty of were boxes of fine china. You know the kind, right? You have to save it because it’s special but it’s too special to eat off of? Yes, “that” china.
Tip: Your children don’t want your china. It has rings of gold on the edges and the microwave will spark and catch fire if they put it inside to warm up last night’s take-out. It won’t work.
I see you have a collection…
Then there are the collections. While you might think your glass slippers and snow globes are amazing, your children may or may not. If you ask them and they decline to “inherit” your collection, don’t be upset. They don’t have room for your stuff and they don’t get the emotional pleasure from it that you did. It’s YOUR collection, not theirs. Raggedy Ann may make you giddy, but she may not do it for your kids.
Tip: Be prepared for a less than enthusiastic “yay” when you tell them one day this collection will be all yours.
Oh, look…more silver things
Silver. Lots of silver everything. I found teapots, creamers, platters with words of congratulations on them, spoons, forks, knives, baby booties, confirmation cups, and spoon collections from every state and country known to man.
Tip: It’s going to get melted or donated. We don’t stop for tea every day like back in the…wait. Did we EVER stop for tea on a silver tea set? Isn’t that the Queen of England’s habit? Regardless, try and say no to silver anything. I fear our children won’t be finding awards engraved on the silver, but awards on bricks of glass or plastic, but it all plays out the same.
The ’50s want their clothes back
Clothing was in great abundance as well. I pulled over 70 coats out of my parent’s house, and my husband’s mother must have owned stock in those shirts with the big pads in the shoulders. It’s very easy to acquire too many items of clothing.
Tip: Take all of your clothes and turn them around in the closet so the hangers face the wrong way. At the end of a year, donate all the clothes you didn’t even wear once. They will still be fashionable enough that someone will get some use out of them, and it will save your children from lugging armloads to the dumpster. Clothing that doesn’t get used attracts rodents. Don’t ask me how I know this.
How many hammers do you need?
Let us talk about tools, my friends. You don’t need 15 hammers of the same size and weight. You just don’t. How many screwdrivers does one person need? Apparently over a hundred if you ask my dad and father-in-law.
Tip: Can you at least whittle it down to five of each? Your children will love you for it.
For the love of books…
I love to read. I really do. In fact, we plan on having a dedicated library room when we next move. That said, books are heavy to move, and moving box after box after box to the local bookstore or thrift store is painful. And when I say painful, I mean your back will start to cuss at you.
Tip: You can let go of the romance novel the day after you have read it. You won’t read it again. Trust me. You will buy five more to take its place and you will NOT come back to that one. Donate it quickly.
The coin shortage could be over soon if…
I now know why there is a coin shortage in the United States. Can after can after can of coins, pennies, were all being stockpiled at the inlaws! Over $500 in coins. We stopped counting.
Tip: Unless you have a coin collection, and I mean the kind of collection where you label and file each and every coin, there is no reason to keep coins. Let’s all join hands and take our coins back to the banks where they can be reunited with their coin families. Your children will be thrilled.
I love me a stuffy…
Stuffed animals are so much fun when we are little, aren’t they? Do you know what happens to them when they aren’t played with for over 40 years? The mice use them for bedding. Or maybe just a bathroom. I couldn’t tell the difference, to be honest.
Tip: If you must save a stuffed animal for some reason, be sure and seal it in a plastic bag, then put it in a box and put tape around it a couple of dozen times, and then…actually, no matter. The mice WILL find it. Let it go to a new home when you are done loving it. It’s the right thing to do.
But it’s a cute glass seal… giraffe…Siamese cat…
Are you familiar with the word Tchotchkes? NO? Let me educate you.
A tchotchke is defined as an inexpensive item that is usually more decorative than functional. These little trinkets sit on office desks, shelves at home, or on your clothing, adding a bit of personality to the space.
Think about Funko Pops, little LEGO figurines, the prizes you get in cereal boxes, glass statues of cats, dogs, or elephants, and the pins you can buy at your local thrift shop. All of these popular items could be considered tchotchkes.
Synonyms for Tchotchke:
- Knick knack
Whatever you call it, let us just say when you go to store it in a box, ask yourself this question: “what joy will this bring me in a box?”. If you have run out of room for your trinkets and must box them up and put them in the basement, garage, closet, attic, or storage unit, you’ve gone too far. Step away from the trinket.
And if you can’t step away, please, for the love of all that is good, DON’T wrap it in layers of tissue paper! One swipe of bubble wrap will do ya. Yes, the trinket may be safe, but the mice will use the tissue paper and kleenex for bedding and toileting. It’s not pleasant to unwrap 40 years of mouse poop only to find that the trinket was made of wood or plastic and wasn’t even that breakable in the first place.
Tip: If you have to store it, toss it. It will only be wrapped and boxed again when your kids get to it while they try and figure out if it has any sentimental value or if it was just an impulse buy.
Pictures: If you’ve printed them, write on the back who this person is and if they are a relation or friend. Then put it in an album or a photo box. Don’t just leave thousands of pictures in a box unmarked.
True family heirlooms: Leave a note with it so when you lose your memory you will remember why it’s so special. Your kids will have no idea why there’s a chunk of human hair in a box. You’ll just have to trust me on that one.
Also, don’t put heirlooms into boxes with less important items. I found a pair of bronzed baby booties at the bottom of a box of craft supplies. If I hadn’t been going through everything one item at a time, that heirloom would be at a thrift store right now. The next time you see someone’s ashes in a glass dolphin for sale at the local Goodwill, you’ll know what happened.
Keep items together: Try and keep all the heirlooms in one area, all the musical instruments in one area, all of the dollhouse furniture in one area, all the beanie babies in one area, etc. If you have more than one of anything, it’s best to group it together with like items. Especially if you are going to store it. Label the boxes/tubs with what’s inside so when you buy the fifth item of the same value, you know which box to add it to.
The photo above is credited to “DIY mommy” and here’s her link for ideas! Click HERE.
Leave money in your estate for boxes, tubs, and dumpsters, cause your kids are gonna need it.
When my 35-year-old son came to me and said, “I’m a minimalist, Madre”, he said, “I don’t see a reason for having so many things”, I thought “Weird. Who lives in a sterile home with nothing on the walls or countertops?”.
I have a much better appreciation for his words after plowing through two estates. If you think you need it, think twice. If it brings you joy, then obviously, go for it. Your heirs will deal with it, but at least they will have the satisfaction of knowing you put some actual thought into what you owned and it was meaningful to you, as opposed to box after box after box of “stuff“.
The next estate that I go through will be my own. Time to downsize!
That’s all I have for you this week, dear reader. Give it some thought…or don’t. Either way, I’ll see you back here next Wednesday to share another cup of coffee. Until then, be good to yourself and each other.
Mind, Body, Spirit…DOs treat the whole person, not just the ailment. Is your PCP a DO? Would you like to learn more about Osteopathic Physicians? Click HERE!