Last week I drove by an estate sale sign, and had to stop and check for bargains. My god, that lady collected a lot of stuff. I asked the people at the sale, was this one estate or multiple. They assured me it all belonged to one widow who may have lived in that house for 45 years. Stuff was packed into banana boxes, piled up and packed solid into rooms in the basement, then the garage, then the spare bedroom.
I bought a couple of glass pie plates. The one thing I can cook is a pie. That's an exaggeration, but I figure I can never have too many pie plates. After all, one day there might be a shortage, then what would I do?
My parents' stuff was all sold at auction earlier this year. A few years ago I had made an attempt at clearing out some stuff, worried that adult protective services might declare the place a fire hazard and unsafe for my parents to live there. Did my mom really need 25 unopened packages of flannel pajamas? Did they need a basement full of dishes and sheets and towels and underwear? My dad was annoyed with me, didn't think I should interfere, so I gave up.
Has anyone had an elderly relative who didn't hoard? At what point in life do we become our parents? Is this "stuff" part of our identity?
Not having had nearly as long as my parents, or that poor lady, to accumulate rooms and rooms packed solid with "stuff", I've discovered that it's taking me longer to find things, and there are fewer places to put "stuff". AM I becoming my parents already?
The past few weeks, I decided to do something about it. I've always near-worshiped books. After all, they contain knowledge, history, information. Books are precious. But my thought is, if I haven't opened the book in a few years, and especially if I've forgotten that I own it, it's time to let someone else benefit from the knowledge. So I packed about a dozen boxes full of books, all sorts of good stuff. Then clothes. OK, I'm going to lose the weight and get into those clothes again. But a suit that I haven't worn in 10 years? Shirts that I haven't been able to wear in even longer? Maybe someone would benefit from those too. If I ever get my weight that low again, I can just buy a couple of items. I really don't wear more than 4 or 5 shirts and 4 or 5 trousers, anyway. A few for the office, a couple of torn, paint splotched workpants and shirts that I pride in how much evidence of my home remodeling they contain, and that's about all I need. Some blankets I've never used - gifts that I was too guilty to want to give away, after all, they were gifts. Kitchen stuff that hasn't been used in 5 years more more.
I did keep my old Army uniform. Not sure why, but no one else would want it either. I like having that.
Still not sure what to do with my great grandmother's china. I really don't want it. Or a few other "heirlooms" that just collect dust. I don't think they are really "mine", and I don't want to be their caretaker any more. I don't want to belong to that "stuff" that someone else collected. Neither does anyone else in my family, but they are my "hot potato" for the moment.
Three carloads off to goodwill so far. I'm not that old lady, a couple more carloads should do it. Now I can walk into my "Junk room" and actually see everything in a glance. The closets actually have room. The kitchen cabinets actually have space, and I can find stuff now.
I've bought many items at Goodwill. Clothes, kitchen tools. It's one of my favorite forms of recycling. It's not that I can't afford a new workshirt - but why buy it new when someone has broken one in for me?
There is still no shortage of "stuff". But I do feel a bit lighter. A bit more "free."
And I vow not to become my parents.
And I made a fantastic cauliflower & mushroom pie in that new pie plate. Olive oil crust with just a bit of lemon juice to make it fluffy. Lots of garlic. Loved it.