Monday, June 15, 2009


Posted by Terry McNichols

I recently told a friend that I am giving away some pieces of furniture to my daughter, who is moving out of town. My friend was shocked, and we have had an email exchange that has brought me to this post. What follows is a slightly edited version of our exchange:

My email: You seemed surprised that I want to get rid of stuff. I guess that's the difference in being in the same house for 30 plus years and moving around several times. I have needed to downsize and downsize and I don't feel good if I'm not in the process of downsizing. So this is the next step..... Here's my first post re stuff and more has been said. I think as long as you have a big house you don't have to deal with the accumulation, but if you ever start to move, you start thinking about what you have and what you really do need to have to live.

Her response: I was surprised about all the furniture you are giving away. Each year I go through clothes and small items and decide what hasn't been used in a year could be used by someone else and off it goes. Also the Christmas box - each year I move things out. That does feel good. I'm not ready to get rid of other things yet since we do have gatherings and need chairs, dishes, etc. I think about my mother and what will happen to all her "stuff" since I have no room nor does my sister for more, nor do we want more. I do wonder about some of the things that have been special throughout the years and know that some day, not now, I will need to deal with it. I still love the tradition of bringing certain things when our early adult kids come home, assuming it will evoke fond memories of our years together. However, the thoughts you included on your blog have been on my mind from time to time. Some day, maybe all my bras will be out for public display too.

And from me: Some of my willingness to get rid of stuff also comes from the fact that my kids are all married and have kids, and they have pretty much gotten their own version of stuff and don't very often want things passed down to them. My kids each have dishes that are unique to them, and it isn't necessarily the china of our past. We had a storage unit for several years, saving things we thought our kids would want, including furniture items, and they have already taken what they want. One son lives in Texas and it gets expensive to ship things that he might want.

So with my latest small house, I find it isn't fun to try to stage the big dinners any more. It's easier to go to our kids' houses where their kids have beds and their own toys. So I see myself in a completely different life phase and can't see why I should keep enough Christmas dishes for 16! That's really not going to happen in my house any more. So I'm keeping 4 place settings and the rest have got to go.

It is painful, however, at every step, when we get rid of things. My husband sold two Corvairs that he had rebuilt and dearly loved. We sold our cute little Boler trailer. Got rid of tools, Christmas tree, dishware, books, on and on it goes. But we've done it in many phases, so it doesn't seem so painful. And this little house feels crowded, so I'm on the rampage again.
And I do get jealous of people who keep their big houses and have a place for kids and grandkids to return to. But if we'd done that, we'd still be in our first big house, our kids would all be dispersed, and we'd be stuck in the rut we were in, with none of the exciting things we've managed to make happen in the last few years. So no regrets! Just poignant jealousy at times.

Addendum: So, yes, I am sending my daughter off in their moving van with my oak china closet, oak buffet, and our large lovely sofa, part of a 3-piece set. I see the opportunity to pass on a few of my favorite things when there is a truck ready to take them. And she wants these items! So I am also getting rid of most of the things that were stored in those pieces of furniture. If I were my own therapist, I'd worry about my state of mind, but believe me, I'm happy! I would love to say that my generosity was a result of hearing the sermon yesterday and wanting to live more simply. Yes, there is that, but this time it is purely selfish. My house will feel much less cluttered, and for me, that's a very good feeling. My daughter, who appreciates old oak furniture as much as I do, will put it to good use, and I will happily visit my past furniture in its new surroundings!
(Photo by 1fave, shared via Flickr)

1 comment:

hootenannie said...

And God bless our parents for passing furniture along to us when we need it. :)