In Which We Throw Out ALL The Stuff. Especially The Special Ancestral Stuff.

Since last I saw you, we have put the house on the market, getting ready to move.  Right now, it’s early in the season — so early, in fact, that we had to cancel the open house on Sunday because of the snowstorm that hit earlier than it was supposed to, darn it — but we’ve got time, and we’re hopeful.

And in getting the house ready — because we do NOT want it on the market, hanging out for months, no, no — we have made it all look like nobody’s really living here.  It’s like a Victorian Motel.  Without dead ladies in the attic.

So for weeks I went through my Stuff, trimming it down as far as I was comfortable.  Here, for those of you who collect this sort of information, is my process;  for each piece of Stuff that I put my hands on, I asked these simple questions:

1)  Do I want for my beloved son to have to throw this Stuff out when I die?  (If not, it goes, either thrown out or sold or given away, depending on what seems appropriate.)

2) For the objects surviving that question — Do I need this Stuff in the next three months?  (If not, it got packed in a box, and it’s in the basement or the attic.)

It’s amazing how much Stuff you can get rid of, if you’re 1) moving across the country, and 2) in the process of helping other beloved people throw out Stuff that their parents didn’t manage to get rid of before they got too incapacitated to do it themselves.  I’m VERY aware at the moment of how silly most of the Stuff that gets left behind is.  Please.  All of us.  If any of us happen to know that we’ve got income tax receipts from 1988, or cans of pastry filling from 1972, let’s just all go throw that Stuff out right now.

This is a sad problem, though, when the Stuff is inherited.  Of which I have much.  Some of it I’m for sure keeping, like the Victorian hair wreath made out of my ancestors’ hair — that’s too awesome to let go of, and besides, my son actually wants to inherit it.*  But incomplete sets of ugly china that belonged to long dead ancestors I never met?  I’m ready to let go of those.  The beloved ancestors are not using the Stuff.  If I’m not using it, either, it is, de facto, useless.

The other day my son and I were dragging a chest down from the attic and it was heavier than I thought it should be.  Inside, to my surprise, was one of those inherited pieces of Stuff I had forgotten about — an unfinished crocheted bedspread, started by one of my great-grandmothers, and left unfinished when she died.  I have been carrying that thing around for 40 years.  It has moved with me from Albuquerque to San Francisco to Pittsburgh, and apparently was hiding out ready to go back to Albuquerque with me (and that was all after it left New York, and then lived in Texas for a while, before it hit Albuquerque, along with a sojourn in Colorado).  I intended to finish it at one point.  I had big ideals, when I was a child.  And I think I did some of it.  But I don’t like to crochet.  And I don’t like that bedspread.  So, in order to finish what my great-grandmother started, I would need to spend hours — no, days — no, months; this thing is humongous — doing work I don’t enjoy, in order to end up with a finished product that I don’t want.  I’m throwing it out.

Naturally I have repented of having packed some of the Stuff that’s down in the basement.  A couple of weeks after I packed up all the art supplies, I started Journal 52, and could have been using them.  But I’ve got some markers and some colored pencils, so I’m doing fine.  Also, I packed up all the embroidery thread, only to start running out of some of the colors I need on one of my projects.  But I’ve got other projects I can work on for now.  Also, apparently packing up all the cookbooks wasn’t a brilliant idea; I’m still cooking, while we’re waiting for the van. But every recipe I’ve needed so far has been available on the internet.

Still, I’m looking forward to unpacking all this Stuff in Albuquerque, and once again having more things than I need around.  But no trash.  Especially no hereditary trash.


*Here, for those of you who are asking, but what IS a Victorian hair wreath? is the link to a set of images of such from Google.  I’m telling you, this Stuff can not be beat. I’m a lucky girl, to have one hanging in my house.  Well, not hanging in my house; at the moment it’s in a box in the basement.  but come May, it’ll be one of the first items of Stuff to be liberated.

2 Replies on “In Which We Throw Out ALL The Stuff. Especially The Special Ancestral Stuff.

  1. This is great!

    My mom has a surefire method for getting her closets cleaned out despite her anxiety about throwing things away.

    She has a couple glasses of wine and averts her eyes while she sets her two daughters at it.

    We love throwing her stuff away! better now than one day thick with grief. And it’s more fun now when we can run into the room howling with laughter over the shoulder pads….