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Set it (and Yourself) Free

Originally published in Gray Matters,

Times Standard

January 5, 2016

(Family hutch waiting for a new home at Miranda's Rescue)

My father blended his household with my stepmother’s a long time ago, each bringing much that belonged to their parents. When they downsized from a three to a two bedroom house they were meticulous and plodding. It took forever for them to go through everything and make the move.

They never asked for help from their children, knowing we would have wanted to blow through it in a few weekends, toss in all in a heap, or run screaming for the hills, or all the above.

Left out of the loop, my siblings and I received periodic packages in the mail, which we called our “heirloom gifts.” The real delicate stuff was handed over with great fanfare during visits so there was no way to refuse.

I encourage my Mother to do the same. Instead she asks if we want anything, and we always say no. “Mail it to us Mom. That is the only way to get rid of it.”

I admit my Dad’s red wine, with some bottles going back to my teen-aged years when I stole one of them to impress my friends (didn’t work), was a great heirloom gift. He made notations in his indecipherable script about when to drink each bottle.

The tea set from 1952 Japan was cool. Multiple soup tureens from my great grandmother’s inn on Lake Ontario? Not so much. I have used a Royal Worcester 12 place setting exactly twice.

My stepmother gave me her oak dining set. A buffet, six chairs and a table that enlarges to seat twelve. The buffet stored everything from my Dad’s side of the family. The wine didn’t last long enough to have storage issues.

I didn’t particularly “love” the set, but the chairs were comfy and the table worked for playing poker. Eventually, the table and chairs were stuck in the garage when I bought a new set I liked better.

The buffet held out the longest, steadfast just inside my front door. It was a great place to leave my keys, mail, and knick-knacks. The top displayed photos of my departed family members.

After my last big move I didn’t unpack the china. I thought I needed to keep the buffet, so I continued to put things I loved on it, hoping it would help. It didn’t. I finally emptied the buffet and gave it to Miranda’s Rescue. The table and chairs are in my newly configured “game room” ready for a 1000 piece puzzle or a game of poker.

Both activities bond me to my Dad with memories better than his grandmother’s soup tureens ever could. (update: When i seriously downsized in 2016, the table and chairs were given away to a growing family in my neighborhood and their children can some day receive this new family "heirloom."

As I get older I want less and only what I love and enjoy using vs. what is assumed to hold sentimental value, but finds no perch in my heart. They say life is too short to waste a minute, or to spend time with people we don’t enjoy. It is the same for stuff. Our stuff has a right to be enjoyed too. If you don’t love it, or use it, set it free.

Maggie Kraft is the only Senor Move Manager® in Humboldt County.

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