Have you ever stopped to consider the amount of stuff a person accumulates in a lifetime? It really can be overwhelming. How much stuff does one really need? These are questions I had never given much thought to until my mom passed away, and we had to clean out her house. My brother and I grew up in that house with my parents, so we were familiar with most of their belongings. We now had homes of our own filled with stuff we had amassed, so it was a challenge to amalgamate hers. To be quite honest, I had no interest in a pink floral sofa.
Several weeks after her funeral, we met at mom’s house to make some decisions about how to proceed with the clean out. So there we were my brother, his wife, his two daughters, my son, my daughter, and myself. We had previously decided on certain items that could go to the family cottage and replace worn out things there. Next we told the kids to take whatever they wanted because they were just starting out and could use many of the items. After several hours, they had each chosen only an armful of things. No one wanted the good China or crystal that my mom had cherished for a lifetime. It wasn’t their style, and I had to agree with them. In a way, it made me sad to think that we didn’t treasure those items as much as she had.
Even more ridiculous was the amount of paper – bills, receipts, etc.- that she had kept in filing cabinets and drawers for things she no longer even owned. I actually had to laugh as I went through each drawer in case there was something important hiding among the things that were headed for the recycling bin. Why do we do this? Some people take it one step further and actually rent storage units to house things they don’t use, but can’t part with, and it has become the premise of a “reality tv” show.
I have come to the conclusion that accumulating stuff is a carry over from the generations before us who had very little and treasured each and every possession. My generation, the “baby boomers”, were not only taught to appreciate our possessions, but we also grew up in a time when it was easier to accumulate fabulous, new things. Jobs were plentiful and manufacturing grew exponentially. The generations that followed us have so much available to them that things become disposable quickly and easily. Our city dumps can attest to this fact.
Just recently, I was moving some boxes filled with mom’s China and crystal around my basement. When the final clear out came, I didn’t have the heart to dispose of them, and now I was stuck storing them. How truly ridiculous! I was being ruled by my emotions and guilt. How many of you have basements, attics, and garages filled with things you don’t want, but can’t get rid of because of guilt? How many of you are storing things that belonged to your kids? They moved out, but left a lot of things behind.
Stuff weighs us down. It fills us with guilt because we can’t just throw it away knowing it had value at one time. Garage sales are a testament to the fact that most of us are trying to rid ourselves of both the items and the guilt. Somehow, if we can sell it and find it a new home, we have a clear conscience. Have you noticed that most yard sales are being held by our “baby boomer” generation?
All this got me thinking about my own stuff. I know for a fact that my kids will have absolutely no use for most of my belongings. The things that I have collected and treasured for my lifetime have little meaning to them. So I have decided to be proactive and make a more concerted effort to clear things that I no longer want or use from my basement as a start. I have also promised myself not to purchase things that I do not need. I wonder what the reaction will be when I arrive at my kids’ houses with the things I have been storing for them?
Thanks for reading,