Before I delve into the real core of this post, I cannot and will not pretend that the things that I am describing are anything other than first world problems. When I talk of moving and the inevitable "downsizing" that goes along with it, I am continually aware of how fortunate I am to have been in a stable home for all of these years, to have had the luxury of accumulating the massive amounts of "stuff" that we are shedding, and to recollect the memories that go along with all of those possessions. I am making every effort to make certain that these things are not just disposed of but instead are being carefully recycled, reissued, reused, and reinvigorated. We are donating, sharing, giving, and repurposing. We will be holding our first-ever garage sale in a couple of weeks, (I am certain that it will be the subject of a stand-alone post) an event we both have carefully avoided for over three decades but understand the necessity of if we want to properly divest ourselves of more shit. But, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the intense feelings of obsolescence and advancing seniority that has come along with this endeavour. When The Husband posted a picture this week of all of our outmoded electronic components, I had to laugh, but I also despaired just a bit at how much money had been invested and how easily we tended to discard the "not-so-old" and replace it with the "not-much-better."
1. If it hasn't been used or worn in over a year, it's a toss.
This has been our rule of thumb for clothing, linens, towels and the like. Yes, there are exceptions like the Elmo sweatshirt that Older Son wore every day for a solid year or the children's sweaters knitted by The Husband's grandmother, but keeping a worn-out blanket because it used to be on the boys' beds and may invoke nostalgia for those nighttime parent/child reading rituals, is not enough of a reason to retain it and have it take up precious storage space. Find a book that conjures up the same memories and treasure that instead.
2. Try to not become a slave to new technology.
Yes, you read that correctly. I said new technology. I wrote last week about my dilemma of disposing of our vast collection of vinyl, cassette tapes, VHS tapes, and DVDs. While digitizing much of the music has already been accomplished, we are still hanging on to the original recordings. I just cannot seem to part company with the music sources of my youth. That said, we have thus far donated almost one hundred boxes of books and there are more still to come. We are keeping important volumes, hardcover children's classics, a few autographed editions, and our Judaic collection, but the old textbooks, beach-reading novels, computer manuals, and 3 sets of encyclopaedias are gone. We have thoroughly embraced e-reading and would rather keep the space for multimedia.
3. Photographs NEVER get tossed.
I don't care how old or ragged they look, photos are an always keep. The same goes for family videos, the boys' plays recorded on VHS, wedding albums from our parents, and yearbooks. This should not require explanation or justification.
4. If you can't identify it, it goes.
I had a true WTF moment with this charming little gadget.
We later identified it as a citrus juicer but just the mere fact that we had no idea what it was, sent it off to Value Village.
5. If it makes you weep uncontrollably, it is a keeper.
Such was our find of a 1995 recording of Younger Son chanting the Four Questions. I. Could. Not. Stop. Crying. The Husband, visibly touched by my waterworks, immediately set about transferring the old cassette to digital. It is now safely catalogued on my computer, but the original stays.
6. There is no sentimentality attached to furniture...unless....
Some of our furniture is being donated. Some of the smaller items are being sold at the garage sale. But what of those pieces that fall between the house/condo cracks?
My grandmother did all of the needlework on this bench back in the early 70s. It used to sit at the foot of my bed in my childhood room. I haven't had a place for it in years but it has followed me around through five moves and 31 years of marriage. This one is still in the toss-up category.
7. There is no sentimentality attached to dishes...unless...
My Sister/Cousin told me this week of her quietly absconding with her mother's rolling pin during the packing up of their house. There is no monetary value to the item, but the memories are precious to her. I get that. There is a tea set that my grandmother's brother brought over from Germany after the war. It was owned by a Jewish family and kept hidden. They didn't survive the war but the tea set did. It's a keeper.
8. Elmo stays. It's a hard and fast rule.
Older Son had a bit of a think over Elmo yesterday but chose to leave him behind. I said that there was no way that was happening. He is getting a bath today and will make the move with us. Space be damned.
And therein lies the true complication of downsizing. How do I separate a battered and worn stuffed doll from its cornucopia of memories? Which items go and which items stay? It is the Unetaneh Tokef of moving. Who shall live to see ripe age and who shall not....
5 weeks and counting.
**Look around your personal space. Are there things that you could easily do without? Are there things that are must keeps? Let me know in the comments section.**