Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Downsizing: to keep or discard?

At Sunday night supper, a friend and I had a friendly but heated discussion. I was explaining to Sue, my good friend, that I had two marble-topped pieces of furniture that matched my bed but probably wouldn’t fit in the cottage. Her instant reply was, “Get rid of them.” I said no, they were family pieces, very old, with both sentiment and value attached to them.

“So are you going to pay storage fees on them for forty years?”

“Probably,” Jordan said. They have rented two storage units for the leftovers from their house already.

Sue was completely exasperated.

The world, I’ve discovered during this move and downsizing, is made up of sentimentalists and hard-hearted realists. I am obviously a sentimentalist. I have many antiques--not Louis 14th spindly things but good solid pieces from late 19th and early 20th century America. My mother’s secretary—when my brother and I look at it, we see Mom sitting there paying bills.
My bed—mahogany, with a six-foot headboard and four-foot footboard. I remember crawling into it as a toddler when I had a nightmare. The two marble-topped pieces mentioned above match the bed.

Jordan and Christian are keeping the sideboard that I remember from my Canadian grandmother’s house—built in 1846—and my dining table, which is not a family piece but beautiful nonetheless.

My point is that so many of these pieces hold memories that I could not just get rid of them. This weekend I will offer a couple of things again to my children, and I’ve discussed the marble-topped with my brother. If some of those pieces go to storage, maybe on down the line some grandchildren will want them. My niece was delighted to get a set of her grandmother’s china and said, ‘I’m just grateful to have anything of hers.” So maybe we’re a family of sentimentalists. I like to think that.
And here is a corner of my bedroom during the move--not much sentimental about this.


Victor Wadsworth said...

Keep them, objects are not always just things when they invoke sweet memories. I have a Cowrie shell my Friend Dennis gave me 50 years ago when we were boys, it not only reminds me of him but it also reminds me of me as a boy.

Judy Alter said...

Nice to know a fellow sentimentalist.

Carina Sebastine said...

Oh Judy, your move reminds me of mine, from the East Coast of England to the very South of India - from a huge!!! Victorian house (1867) was very very hard to weed out the things which shold come with me or not. OK, some I gave away to friends, to Charity Shops but the rest......oh what the heck, we loaded into 2 vast containers and brought it here - and glad we are! So many memories - I love to be surrounded by things which are precious to me. This does not mean everything has to have a high commercial value attached, oh no, often the smallest items, like pebbles from our beach just a few yards away (we took a box for our plants on the terraces here). The only sad thing was, that a few of my antique furnitures and china got damaged and the heat is not helping either much. So, hang on to your beautiful furniture!!!! You will find a space, I am sure - and go on enjoying them.

Judy Alter said...

Wow! You really made a dramatic move. I'm just going from the main house to the guest house, and I'm fortunate that my children want the things I can't keep. Thanks for the encouragement.