Toss or Keep

I spent a great amount of time collecting all of these “things” I own, and now it is time to decide what is worth keeping. This process started when Mother died, six years ago. It began with her home selling which meant immediate downsizing.

There is the initial stage when furniture and other valuables are divided among family members. Most items went to new homes without an issue and this happened because Mother had stated or written where she wished them to go.(Well, except when she changed her mind for the fourth time and then it got confusing.) Left behind–clothes, shoes, hats, linens, towels, quilts, blankets, pillows, afghans, Christmas decorations, genealogy papers and family photographs.Not to mention the miscellaneous category.

I moved to a smaller home and purchased a shed to hold those leftover items that came with me. They were there because in the first stage I was unsure of their sentimental or monetary value.  This second stage is more difficult to get through. It takes time to weed out what must have once had sentimental value to someone.  It takes a stiff backbone to discard what might make your mother roll over in her grave.

Then, have you tried asking your children or other kin what they want of yours after you are gone?  I know friends who have posed this question and get an “I don’t know” or “I don’t want to talk about it. That’s morbid. It doesn’t matter. Whatever you want me to have.” I think this happens because while I might be looking towards the end of my life and trying for practicality, the younger ones find it difficult to be reminded of my morality and in turn their own.

Some of the deciding does come down to being practical, at least when it comes to large pieces of furniture. There might not be room for it in a home or  there is a difficulty in transporting or it doesn’t mean to the next generation what it did to the present one.

It is not a clear-cut process and takes: determination (I can get through all of these boxes in my lifetime), concentration (Focus, focus, focus. Now is  toss or keep time. If I am keeping, I will delve into these interesting letters later.) and time  (It took a long time to acquire these things; it will take more than a day to decide their fate)

By giving away to friends and relatives, yard sales, donations, and just plain putting in the garbage, I made progress. Right now I am weeding out what I still have. I find if I do this about every six months I come across items I can now let go of. Clothing is easy if you go by the two years and I haven’t worn it rule…but you have to follow that. Books I dealt with by challenging myself to keep only those which meant something to me and they had to fit into one large bookcase.

Family photos can sabotage a purge. Ours is the last generation to deal with so many prints and negatives–toss negatives (How many prints have you actually made off a negative?) and toss duplicates or near duplicates, Keep the really good pictures that illustrate or memorialize your life and your families. I bit the bullet and threw away old family pictures without names.

It is worth the time. It can make you money if you can sell the china never used or fine linens stored away. Donations make a difference in other people’s lives. If you hear of a worthwhile organization doing an auction, see if they can use your “treasure.” I just happily gave household items from sheets to dishes to a group helping formerly homeless people get settled in a new home.

Now if I can just figure out what to do with those five boxes of Christmas decorations…………..

Published by Judytwiga

I am a freelance writer and photographer who enjoys living close to the action in Knoxville, Tennessee. In the 1980s I created and published Zoo Connections, an international networking publication for non-animal zoo departments. Jobs over the years include working with the developmentally disabled, night front desk at a motel, assistant in development and membership at the NC Zoological Society, Customer Relations manager at Regal Entertainment Group, census enumerator, concessions at University of Tennessee, house cleaner, substitute teacher, sitter for children, houses, and pets. Freelance work at Knoxville News Sentinel and KnoxZine. Contributor to A Knoxville Christmas (2008,2007), and articles for the North Carolina Zoo website. Interested in anything except humorless people and politics. Enjoy reading, Scrabble, Catan, camping. I hold dear family (human and animal), friends, Kenya, Sunset Beach, NC and the Keys.

One thought on “Toss or Keep

  1. Great post, Judy. My sister is 10 years younger than me. She and her husband sold their home and bought a smaller one, which forced her to downsize. She piled everything in one room and told the children and grandchildren to come take whatever they wanted. The rest she donated to Volunteer Ministry Center where she works. I’m attempting to do the same with my stuff. The kids want it, but tell me to keep it because they don’t have room. They are missing the point.

    I sure don’t like knowing that I’m the next in line.

    Liked by 1 person

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