While cleaning out my late mother’s house this month, I had ample time to think about “stuff”, and not just the life, love, legacy stuff, but the stuff stuff—as in objects, tchotchkes, and possessions.
Whether you are downsizing, settling an estate, selling the summer house, or just organizing the garage, here’s what I know.
It Is Harder To Un-Acquire Than To Acquire
Think (hard!) about this truism next time you are considering ANY purchase from Target to Tiffany’s. At the very least, in your absence, give your family some direction. For example, Overton is the lucky recipient of three LARGE family portraits. PKC said so in Notes from Beyond, and who are we to argue.
Not Everyone Values Stuff Equally
Not everyone values stuff equally, which makes distribution tricky and time consuming. Some decisions are pretty obvious– finger bowls=NO (unless you are a Victorian time traveler.) But what about brown end tables, family pictures, the ugly oil painting, a partial set(s) of floral china, 1960’s clothing, the Christmas ornaments etc. etc. etc.
Value is in the eye of the beholder, and beholders can be greedy, sentimental, competitive, indecisive, indifferent, or pragmatic. Know your tribe, and when all else fails, see #7.
On a related note: Not everyone in the family has the same memories!
Sharing Is Good
A good day was when we shared the contents of PKC’s library with fellow book lovers. Books of course are made for sharing, but we also distributed some pretty china!
Givers and receivers happy!
I love the recycle/reuse/repurpose movement! (And I am working on reuses for those finger bowls—stay tuned!)
Guilt Is A Forgone Conclusion
Need I elaborate on this?
Squabbles Are Possible, But Avoidable
Overton and I are pretty simpatico, but not everyone has the world’s most awesome brother! Remember this process is tough on everyone, so cut him/her/them some slack. Christmas dinners— forever, the chipped souvenir mug from your parent’s trip to Mexico in 1965— forgettable.
There will be sweat (and sometimes blood and tears)
As anyone who has ever sold a house knows, the work is physically and emotionally demanding. Maintain a sense of humor, invest heavily in Post-it notes, and celebrate every win (last dessert plate! Yeah!)
Storage is expensive, but sometimes necessary
Can’t decide? In the interest of family harmony, store it! The key is to store the stuff for a finite period of time. By the time the deadline rolls around, the sentiment will have magically worn right off all that stuff.