Empty Nester Downsizing: Are you doing this?
The downsizing continues… More sifting, sorting, tossing and saving. Are you doing this? Lately, I seem to read a lot about how people are downsizing, buying smaller homes and some of them have adapted to a nomadic lifestyle. They just travel and don’t even have a permanent home any longer.
Our children now are grown, we looked around and noticed… we have lots of stuff. I’ve written in the past about how we had a much bigger home and downsized to a smaller home which we completely renovated. The entire experience was a gratifying and exciting adventure. However, what we came to understand was that we collected too many personal possessions! Sound familiar?
My husband always says that “the worst day of our lives” was when the moving van pulled up to the smaller house stuffed to the roof with our belongings from the old house. “We don’t have room for this!”
We proceeded to pile it all in the garage and systematically brought it out, box by box, bag by bag for the past three years. Truthfully, my husband has done most of the work. He organizes, shuffles and throws out. I painstakingly go through each box and he disposes of what we don’t need.
Through this process, we have narrowed down our children’s things into just a couple of plastic bins labeled with their names. I also have an entire bin full of children’s books for that future day when I might be able to read my kids’ books to my grandchildren. Is that a thing? It certainly has been a dream of mine!
Will our children be grossed out by these “old books” and not want their new little ones to touch them? I often wondered. I have whittled down the enormous mountain of our collected belongings into one closet which consists mostly of lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of photos. Do you have as many photos as I do?
Remember how we got doubles of everything? Why did we need doubles? Is this an American thing like super-sizing at 7 Eleven? Not only did we get doubles, but then we also had a Costco CD full of them! In most of the photo envelopes, I have 20 shots of the same swing of the bat, or of the presentation of the award where the children are standing in line with five other students. But you could never get an awesome photo because you could never get close enough and they were always at the wrong angle.
A number of these photos I am perusing are taken from the side or from the back and the lighting was always pretty poor which makes them all not very good. To be more specific, I have found plenty of subpar photos, but thousands of delightful ones as well. But I still have them all, the doubles and a CD ROM and 20 versions of the same photo. What to do with them?
These sweet memories crack me up. I do love to visit that old me. That young mom that hung on every word and every song and every book and every game that my children participated in. I loved that time in my life, and I still love those memories, but I guess now I must evolve with a new way of loving, from a little farther away.
Earlier I was mentioning how I was in the very last closet with all the photos; I discovered that the other item I liked to collect was recipes. I found recipes from magazines and newspapers, lots of them too. “Oh, of course, I’ll make this!” Never happened.
The good news is I stumbled upon a stack of recipes I had clipped that I actually did make. They were all of our family’s favorites and they brought back wonderful memories. I also came across my grandmother’s recipes written in her characteristic handwriting, but best of all I found my moms.
My mom’s handwriting is pretty and distinctive and I have now realized that every time I asked for a recipe she would write it on a 3×5 card. Poor woman, she ended up writing the same recipes over and over (because I obviously wasn’t keeping track)so I could have them. Did she complain? No, never. So now I have duplicates of the same recipes in my mother’s hand. I’m keeping them all.
This leads me to the next thought. I found that there are not many cards with recipes that are written by me. Will our children care whether they have a recipe of mine written in my handwriting? I hear they aren’t even teaching handwriting in elementary school any longer. Is this true? In this day of digital and online information, times are different, so do our grown-up kids have the same feelings as we do? I don’t know.
Several years ago I wrote a cookbook called Recipes From Your Childhood. I carefully and methodically made every single dish, delicious casserole, buttery coffee cake, and weekday meals that were my children’s favorites or ones that we made over and over and I thought they could use the recipe. I took all of the color photos and published the book myself.
It was a labor of love, I was proud of the outcome and my daughter uses it all the time! She told me recently that my pasta sauce was her new husband’s favorite meal. If that doesn’t make your heart sing I don’t know what would.
Have you been downsizing, reviewing and reminiscing? Or are you the child of parents discovering and disseminating as we are?
Do you give this any thought? Are your parents’ things precious to you or is it just more stuff? I guess we all have to make our own decisions and do what makes us happy, right? Every family has special memories and every person feels differently about their personal belongings and collections.
If you have any ideas for how to handle my 50,000 photos and CDs, I would love to know!
Thanks for listening.
For more on our downsizing, check out this post:
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