Letting Go of Stuff

My mother, Gail Lee Martin, lived into her late 80s. She was the family archivist carefully preserving her uncles’ WWI helmet, her father’s moth-eaten wool bathing suit from the early 1900s, and many more items entrusted to her care as the previous generation died.

Now, I’m 70 and as a Baby Boomer find that it makes me sad to let go of the earlier generations’ belongings. At some point, one realizes that you can’t keep everything, but choosing what to preserve and what to let go is very difficult.

I saw this in The Estate Lady’s blog and it hit the spot.

The older Boomers are so traditional and as loyal as their parents; they generally have a difficult time letting go of stuff.  They may feel a profound sadness in letting go of previous generations’ things, even as they realize the younger generation no longer wants these things.  They are in the middle of making tough decisions to keep or sell these items.

Yes, these are tough decisions. Sometimes you have to decide that a photo of an item will serve to keep the memory fresh even if you have no room for the what-not shelf that your great-uncle made. It isn’t that we don’t care about these ancestors, but recognizing that integrating dozens, even hundreds of their possessions into our already full home isn’t practical.

As it is, I’m clearing out lots of stuff that I’ve bought and no longer use.  It makes no sense for me to keep my own junk like a broken vacuum cleaner that I’ve already replaced while giving up something that is meaningful in my family. Decluttering meaningless modern stuff makes some room for treasured family items.

I’m also using some of the photos in nostalgic blog posts and in making some family history books. Hopefully, even when an item is no longer in the family’s possession, they will enjoy the memories in the blog and in the books which take up minimal space. 

3 thoughts on “Letting Go of Stuff

  1. It’s tough letting go of old things that our ancestors touched and used, isn’t it? I have very little from my grandparents, and what I have isn’t valuable—except to me. As we plan our final retirement downsizing once again, I’ve wondered what to do with these few treasures. My children aren’t quite to the point of wanting to use old things or of wanting to know more about those who came before. But because I care so much now, as did my mother and father before me, I suspect they will come to that point too, so I’ll hang onto these bits and pieces from the past as long as I can, for their sakes. Thank you for reminding me I need to add this to my list, Virginia!

    Liked by 1 person

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