We used to love “Antique Roadshow.” And we dreamt of selling our leftover “shit” in retirement. BUT NO ONE WANTS OUR SHIT!!! And I mean NO one.
(I am using “OUR” shit loosely and including all of your shit as well. NEWSFLASH: No one wants YOUR shit either!)
About ten, fifteen years ago, my husband and I were selling our stuff that we did not want anymore. We had odds and ends collectibles – vintage paper collectibles. The money we made at tag sales and on eBay paid for our vacations. We went to Europe and emailed our daughter to tell her which items to post. We laughed, enjoying our time on the Mediterranean coast.
And in retirement, we thought we would continue to sell off whatever was left, including my beach paintings, and continue to have fun. I even blogged about decluttering and was invited to talk on a local tv show about what to do with all our stuff.
We have gone on eBay in the hopes of selling our “shit.” I used to knit. I bought expensive knitting needles. I have a ton of them. I put them on eBay. Not a bid.
Vintage postcards that should decorate vintage themed homes. Not a bid.
Old stamp collections. I looked on eBay. No bids. Old baseball cards. No bids. Silver dollars. No bids.
Unique and pretty costume jewelry. No bids.
I am scratching my head in disbelief wondering WHY no one wants our shit.
And instead of asking To Declutter or Not To Declutter?, I am asking To Throw Away or Not to Throw Away?
The thing that got me started thinking about my “stuff” was a conversation I had with a complete stranger while we were standing on line at the Marriott in Birmingham, AL.I was there visiting my step children.Out of the blue, the woman in front of me on the line for breakfast omelets started telling me that she was in Birmingham to clean out her mother’s estate.She could not believe how much stuff she had to go through.She said she wished that her mother had given her a manual full of stories because she could not fathom the reason behind the items.What did they mean to her mother?To her they were just junk.She could not make heads or tails out of the clutter and she did not have the time to go through all of it.She had to get back to Texas to work.
When we got home, I looked around my tiny beach cottage home.I saw all the paintings that no one will be able to store even if they wanted to.I saw my furniture through the eyes of my daughter and step children.I have Ethan Allen traditional pieces alongside garage sale chic.Every item has a story.But who had time to tell the story and who had time to listen?
And besides, the adult kids all want West Elm.They aren’t interest in our stuff.
Now, I will not lie.I am vain. But surely, you have figured that out, because it takes a certain amount of vanity to blog.
I used to imagine that what we had tried but had not accomplished in our life, would get accomplished in our death.I imagined our children – my one and my husband’s three – would come back to our house after “the funerals” and would stay and go through our stuff and talk and connect and find out who we really were by going through our stuff.I imagined “the girls” fingering my jewelry and dividing it up.I imagined them choosing which paintings and photographs they would take back with them and keep.I imagined “the boys” going through my husband’s sports collectibles and equipment and dividing them up.I imagined them sharing the photographs and swapping stories.
We are Jewish and we sit shiva for seven days.Surely that would allow enough time for all this bonding that never took place during our living years, to take place.
Then I remembered that my step children are not Jewish.They live far away.They have their own children and their own lives and they work.
So the question is:Do we do the children a favor and start getting rid of the excesses and NOT replace the stuff that we sell or give away or throw away?Or do we burden them by making them go through decades of our lives?
My mother gave her “good” jewelry away after she got her cancer in her mid sixties.She went onto live another thirty years and went to many more bar-mitzvahs, weddings, and baby showers. And she replaced her “good” jewelry with marcasite pins, necklaces, earrings, bracelets because, yes, she still needed to accessorize!
I would love to give some of my “good jewelry” away but my daughter does not have a home.She is in an apartment and will move any day now.I would love to give some of my paintings away.But my daughter is cramped for space.My stepchildren cannot take any of my paintings because their mother has created a rivalry and they cannot display my art.I might start selling them on www.etsy.com or www.ebay.com.So, please start bidding!!!!
Oh. I forgot.You are also in your sixties and the last thing you want, is MORE STUFF!!!!!
So tell the truth… How many of you have looked around your house or apartment and asked yourself how much stuff do you really need?
I know that I have accumulated stuff and have gotten rid of stuff only to accumulate again and again and again.
I bought books and sold books.I bought more books.
I bought clothes and I sold and/or donated clothes. I bought more clothes.
We have had garage sales. We have sold stuff on ebay. We have packed up stuff and are storing it in the attic, the basement, and the backyard sheds. But we still have stuff.
My walls are full of paintings.Maybe yours are full of photographs.
My shelves hold things I “need.”But I collect vintage tablecloths and I do not know why.
I have lots of handmade necklaces with so called semi precious stones from my working days when I had discretionary income.I have Vera Bradley bags when everyone thought they would be the next collectible.I have a few depression and carnival glassware pieces that I inherited from my dearest aunt.
I have all sorts of vases.
I have a wooden sign that sits atop my shelves in my office that says:ACHIEVE.For the love of God, achieve what?