What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

05 August 2016

Managing Stuff; or, Why I Won't Keep That Thing You Gave Me Forever

While we were packing up our Austin house to move, my sister asked, "Do you mind if I get rid of [thing I can't even remember now]?" Naturally, I said, "No. Why would I mind?" She said, "You're the one who gave it to me."


Family and friends, let me give you blanket permission, henceforth and forever, amen: You need not feel obligated to keep anything I've given you. Once it passed from me to you, it became yours to do with what you wish. Stick it in a garage sale, eBay, thrift store bag, a shelf in your garage--whatever makes you happy. It's yours, and if you can't use it, then by all means pass it on to someone who can.

Trying to keep my living space from
turning into this. Source:
  joana franca on freeimages.com.
However. (You knew this was coming, right?) I reserve the right to also not keep things forever. If that thing you gave me has come to the end of use that I can get out of it (because I'm moving, or my tastes have changed, or it turned out that my life wasn't as enhanced as I thought it would be by the presence of whatever), then away it goes. I'll try to find it a good home, but that good home may well be the Goodwill.

A few weeks ago, my grandmother was doing some furniture changes in her house that resulted in her giving away some drawer sets and a bed. She was positive that everyone she knew would be clamoring to have them. I was equally positive that everyone she knew already had their own furniture and didn't want hers. Guess who was right?

While we were navigating these surprisingly rocky waters, I ran across an article aimed at Baby Boomers about why your kids don't want your downsized stuff. And while this sort of advice has been doing the rounds for a few years, it's always amazing how many "ungrateful kids" comments that come up. It may well be lack of gratitude for a few, but it's more likely to be lack of space, or different tastes in furniture, or a completely different lifestyle. I'd love to have copies of my grandmother's photo albums when she's done with them. Her four-piece bedroom suite? Not so much. Now, if this were furniture handmade by my great-grandfather, or something... but it's not.

It's not economical and and it's not green and it's not even that healthy to hang onto things you don't want, need, or use out of a sense of obligation or guilt. Say a blessing over it, take a picture if that helps, and let it go. (Put it in storage if you must, but beware--items in storage tend to stay in storage. Rip off the band-aid if you can instead of throwing more money at it.)

So if you come to my house and don't see the thing you gave me for May Day six years ago, it doesn't mean I don't love you. It means I love our friendship too much to resent you every time I trip over that (beautiful, of course) thing. And I extend the same grace to you.


Sharlan Proper said...


Phil Beaudry said...

When I moved from Napa to Eureka I wheeled the trash bin and recycle bin to outside my window(s), pulled the screen off, and went to town. That was a very refreshing experience. I'd do it more but /someone/ I live with now gets a mite attached to things...

Su Wilcox said...

@Phil: Yeah, you have to get everyone in the house on board before you start tossing haphazardly.