Without fail, when my friends and I (all senior citizens) get together, the conversation invariably evolves into the topic of downsizing as we prepare for the sunset years of our lives. The big question is what to do with our stuff. Our stuff is what we have spent a lifetime collecting such as china, crystal, silver, art, and family treasures. These treasures have meant so much to us through the years when we entertain and/or decorate our homes. Each item has a history, either from a trip where we bought the item, or of the person who gave it to us as a gift, or a special occasion which brought about the gift, or from a special place where we lived!
Now what do we do with all this stuff? We have to make some decisions since we cannot take it with us when we die. We would like to give it to our children, but there is very little of what we have that they want. I attribute this mostly to two facts. The first is that when we senior citizens were growing up, we were a more nuclear society and spent time together as families around the dinner table or on the front porch discussing many topics such as “where did that old painting of that castle come from?” And the answers might have been “It belonged to Aunt Susie’s husband’s ancestors who brought it over on The Mayflower” which of course makes it valuable as a piece of family history. You may not like this item but you keep it because of that. The other reason is that now as we have become a more mobile society, we do not have as much time together as a family and therefore do not have as many discussions about family “stuff” like we use to. So, our children do not value the history behind our stuff and therefore do not want it. If it has to be washed by hand, cannot go in the dishwasher or has to be dusted or polished, it is not on their wish list.
So what do we do with our stuff? Here are some suggestions: One senior friend suggested we have a “STUFF SALE” comprised of items of value that our kids do not want but are more special than what you would find at a yard or garage sale. Or donate it to your church for when they might have a sale. Place it for sale with an upscale consignment store. Donate certain items to a charity who has auctions as a fundraiser. Advertise some of the things for sale in your local newspaper, online, or to local donation businesses. You could have an Estate Sale if you have a large number of things to sell or an auction of multiple items. If you have younger friends who have always admired something you have, give it to them if they really would like to have it. If you belong to organizations that are forever having fundraising events, donate items to them to sell. There are local buy and sell groups where you can peddle your items as well. Your college might like items also if it is something that they can sell for funds to help with scholarships and/or other things. Or you may have other ideas about how to dispose of your stuff.
If none of these suggestions work for you, go ahead and leave it to your children, and let them deal with it after you are gone! And you can go in peace with all the special memories of your children and their families and your treasures that you have enjoyed through the years. Go in peace and let someone else have the joy of dealing with your “STUFF”.
One thing I am doing is preparing a special box for each of my grandchildren. Since our children do not want our “stuff”, I am preparing a box for each grandchild with some special items in the box. Accompanying each item will be the history of the item and why we have treasured it. Examples for items to include are a piece of silver, a place-setting of china, a favorite book, some family pictures, some items of artwork created by family members, a piece of jewelry, and some family history and genealogy. There are so many things I wish I had asked my parents and grandparents, I am hoping these things will answer their questions that might occur to them when they are older. Good Luck!