Friday, May 6, 2016


Two years ago, my husband and I decided to downsize to condo life. Surprisingly, leaving behind a four bedroom home to move into a place half its size was fairly easy. Neither of us are the type to get attached to places or things, so I didn't waste a lot of time clutching the banister or hugging the walls while whispering, "I'm sorry I'm leaving you. You were the best house, ever!" In fact, I only did that for one day and only because I had Adele on repeat on my iPhone. The real challenge came when we looked around at 23 years worth of stuff and realized there was no way it was going to fit into the four closets and attic the size of a Little Tikes Playhouse that qualified as "storage" at our new place. It was all going to have to go. But, where?  For one brief moment, we thought of asking our son and all the young people in our family if they would want anything.

Our kids don't want our old stuff, no matter how awesome it may be. I learned this after cleaning out two of my parents' homes and trying desperately to get the grandchildren to TAKE SOMETHING, ANYTHING!!  Besides a few random items, they were not interested. Well, they might have been more interested if their parents had agreed to store everything in their basements until the kids decided they were ready to claim them for new, larger living spaces. Guess what kids?
So, as a student at Pinterest University, I read up on the subject of downsizing and learned that it was best to go room-by-room. In each, I would create three distinct piles: Trash (things that you should have thrown away ages ago, like that oven mitt with fossilized pizza cheese on the edges,) Treasure: (Things you no longer want/need but could be of value to someone else, like the several dozen unopened free toothbrushes from the dentist's office,) and Take With: (Things you must have in your new environment, like your old high school year books you haven't glanced at in 40 years, but which will surely give your grandchildren a good laugh some day.)
Laugh away, kids. All we had were yearbooks. You've got miles of social media for your offspring's offspring to wade through.
I began the process in the kitchen. There, I found10 flashlights without working batteries, several dozen of those wax crayons you use to write on Easter Eggs, and piles of mateless Tupperware lids. I had one entire cabinet devoted to all the unused crap I bought at those Pampered Chef parties my friends were throwing back then, but I don't hold myself accountable for those purchases because they served liquor at these events. Because it was only my first day of sorting, I did a most excellent job of placing items in appropriate piles. All the wine glasses went into the Take With pile, and everything else was sent to Treasure or Trash.
I knew the living room would be a challenge as this was my personal memorial museum. Here, we had a large mahogany secretary that had belonged to my grandparents, then my parents, then us. I dreamt of the day when I could scold my future grandchildren for ramming into it with their Big Wheels, but, alas, my son announced he had no use for it. Of course not! Why should I expect that he or his cousins would want a finely built piece of family history when there's an Ikea store a mere hour away? Meanwhile, I had to decide what to do with the items I had encased in the glass cabinet. I prepared myself to deal with dozens of memorabilia and sentimental treasures, focusing primarily on objects that might be in high demand on eBay. Imagine my chagrin when I realized that I had actually purchased half the stuff at Pier One Imports.
Maybe I should have taken this to Antiques Road Show before I tossed it in the trash.

 Did you know that a bed can only handle one set of sheets at a time, therefore, there is no logical reason to have four or five per bed? Apparently, I was unaware, because the contents of my linen closet might have qualified me for an episode of Hoarders. I had enough bath towels to service an entire military platoon, plus a stack of "guest pillows" apparently purchased in case the entire Duggar family dropped in for a sleep-over. Public Service Announcement: Don't buy holiday sheets! Besides the fact that they are completely lacking in any sort of dignity, having your bed made up with snowmen and reindeer is not sexy. I'm going to guess very few children are conceived in December. Bottom line: Everything had to go. 
Nothing sets the mood like bedding featuring the man who knows if you've been naughty or nice. 
Next came the spare bedroom. In my house, this room was the equivalent of an oversized junk drawer. Basically, anything I didn't want to deal with at any particular moment was tossed into this space. This is where old Cub Scout uniforms, band instruments, previously worn Halloween costumes, and outdated game systems went to retire. I also used it to stash paperbacks I'd read ages ago, unused scented candles, floppy discs that might contain "something" and my son's spelling tests from second grade. Naturally, I felt I should check with my son to see if he wanted to save his collection of Pokemon cards, high school t-shirts that proclaimed him a member of the class of '09, and the entire collection of Thomas the Tank Engine toys I'd bought him when he was four. Nope. Not a thing. I was at a loss. Didn't he want SOME tokens of the life he'd lived in this house as a child? What is up with kids today and their lack of hoarding instinct?

It was the attic that broke me. On what planet will my used maternity clothes from 1989 be useful? Not this one since young women no longer feel the need to hide the fact that they are "in a family way" with puffy sleeves and gigantic bows. After going through box after box, it finally occurred to me that 90% of the items in my attic had come from either my parents' or grandparents' attics. What was I doing with them, and why did I think it was a great idea to pass them along to my son for generational attic storage?  At this point, I had no choice but to pick up my phone, demand Siri call the gentleman who had offered to clear out our entire house, and say..... Well, I'll let Adele do the honors:
Two years later, we do not miss one single item that we left behind. Also, we have received zero complaints from our son or any of the young people wishing we had saved the figurines my grandmother had on the mantle and every freaking end table in her house. Despite what Bernadette Peters said in "The Jerk," it's really not about the stuff. It's about the lives that were lived, the child who grew, the events that occurred in that house that made it our home. We can only take those things with us in our hearts. Now, pardon me while I venture over to Amazon Prime to look for some cool, new knickknacks for the condo. I plan to pass them along to a grandchild, someday.

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