Saturday, 5 June 2021

Offloading.

 I smiled at Thelma's post today (North Stoke) about what to do with possessions when moving house.   I was the same when I moved here four years ago after my dear farmer died.   I had a Minton Haddon Hall design afternoon tea set.   I kept it and when my son came round he said he would make a cup of tea for us.   When he brought the trolley in he brought the Minton tea cups and saucers.   In twenty five years I had not used it - I used to joke I was keeping it for when the Queen came to tea.   I remember once before when his wife asked if he could get her a glass  of water, he came back with a Brierley crystal glass.  (For many years we lived almost next door to the Brierley Crystal factory.)   I just don't think these days that younger people bother about such things.   Not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing but it does rather raise the question that Thelma asks - is it worth keeping things like this when it is quite probable that no-one wants them after us?

I have asked a similar question before regarding small things of little or no monetary value and what will happen to them when I am  gone.   I was reminded of the question again this morning.   I have Book Group here on Monday morning (observing all the Covid rules) and sitting in my chair I saw just how dusty and dismal the fireplace area looked so I got a damp cloth, a duster and some window cleaner for the water colours and set  to clean it up.   It was very hard work  - certainly too much for me.  I managed to lift everything off the mantel shelf on to my trolley and then lifted one water colour off the wall.  It took such a lot of doing that I didn't even attempt to remove the other one.   Then I lifted the ornaments off the mantel - they are treasured - they come from Mesa Verde in the US, China, Alma Ata, Lincoln, Local clockmaker, Russia, Salamanca and Mesa Verde again.   None of them have any value in monetary terms - they were holiday souvenirs brought back so they will lose that connection when I go.   I wonder what will happen to them.

Maybe we place far too much importace on possessions.   What do you think?

 

37 comments:

Debby said...

I think that without their stories, these things will be meaningless to our children. They do not know, for instance that when I was in my 20s, I found a bedroom outfit from the turn of the century that I fell in love with. I was in the Army, and I dragged it along with me, from Virginia, to Maryland, to Michigan, to Pennsylvania. I love it still, and it speaks of continuity to me. I bought the set as a young woman and now I am not a young woman. It has held me alone, with another, with babies, through hard times, and good times, and in the end, it is my hope that it will hold my final breaths. To my children, I can guarantee you that it will mean nothing. Don't get me started on my clocks, or any other of the 'memory keepers' that I keep. They mean something to me, and that meaning will be lost on anyone after me, and that is how it always is.

Karren said...

I have been through the experience of closing my Mother's Estate. As we cleaned out her house before she moved into a more supportive environment, she was very hurt that we didn't want to take into our homes, all the collections of knick-knacks she had loved. The thing she forgot, is that our homes are filled with OUR treasures, that mean so much to us that we want to keep them and gain our comfort from our memories. After filling two dumpsters with the things from her house, I brought home the few things that mean something to me and they are part of my life now. I've talked with my children about what things of my home have meaning for them, and will never urge them to take things into their home that they won't love and treasure. After all, it is their home!
I did though, bring home some of the collections and sold them off. Found a good use for the cash generated then.

vic said...

Yes, I understand exactly what you mean. It's not really the thing itself but the associations and memories that go along with it. They're meaningful for you but not, most likely, for anyone else.

We are some years from downsizing but at times I think about what furniture I would get rid of if we needed to because of space concerns in the new living arrangement. Not a happy thought. When just starting out we bought most all of the major furnishings (beds, tables etc.) at auctions good sturdy furniture at very reasonable prices. It made for many fun Saturday outings around the town we we lived in and there generally is an interesting auction story that goes along with the particular pieces. Also I have a number of things that belonged to my grandmother so those are precious, to me at least. So it makes it hard to have to let them go.

I think for young people these days house furnishings are pretty transitory and eliminating them for what ever reason is not a big deal. In a way it makes things easier for them I suppose.

JayCee said...

I have been going through just such a process with our recent move. We felt that the time was right so it was a little easier to let things go.

Tom Stephenson said...

So many elderly men die leaving things which cause many problems for those who clear up after them. I have a WW2 hand-grenade (sans explosives) in a cupboard which I really need to dispose of before they are compelled to call the army in for when I am gone, but what to do with it? If I throw it in the river, sooner or later someone with a magnet will pick it up, but if I destroy it I am throwing away £150.

Angela said...

We have just retired. For over forty years I've been married to a Minister- and we have lived in large church-owned properties - with 4 or 5 bedrooms, and 2 or 3 reception rooms. Now we are in a modest bungalow. We have been forced to downsize. The furniture I was ok with - some to charity, a few pieces to family, and some to 2 young couples just getting their first homes together. But the books, and the knickknacks, and cases, and crockery... I have had to be ruthless. Last year I started putting things on Etsy, and although I have not made a fortune, much of it has gone to people who will enjoy these things. Where possible I've put backstory into the online advert. I could have kept some in boxes in the loft...but why? If I cannot see and use them, what use are they there? I am still reducing, and agree with others that it is the memories attached to things that make them valuable to me. My daughter has asked me to start labelling the backs of photographs NOW - one day she will inherit them and have no idea who they are. TOM I think you should advertise your grenade for sale in a WW2 re-enactment forum.

Heather said...

When I moved from family home to small flat I had to get rid of such a lot. But charity shops, family members and the local secondary school benefited from most of it. The rest went to the dump. When I am gone I don't think I shall worry about what happens to the things I have now. They've given me pleasure so if they might bring pleasure to someone else that will be good. Otherwise recycling will be the order of the day. I shall leave it to my family to sort out - but I will get rid of the rubbish first, hopefully!

Derek Faulkner said...

I thought that Debby and Karren made some excellent points - the mementos are useless without the stories that go with them and the next generation will create their own mementos and won't necessarily want grandma's old stuff, unless of course it could be sold for a hefty profit. Like most of us, I have hung on to things for fifty odd years that are totally worthless but that bring back priceless memories to me.

Minigranny said...

My daughter often tells me not to keep things for 'best'. Use them and enjoy them is her motto !

Tasker Dunham said...

You've opened a floodgate here. We've got a load of Wedgewood. Never used. Wedding present - you have to say there's something you want. If Wedgewood made a pint mug for proper tea drinkers like me then I'd be happy to use it, but they don't. I can't see much point in the little tea cups they do make, or in making it in the posh tea pot and then transferring it into the cup one mouthful at a time.

Gail, northern California said...

It was my great-grandson's 4th birthday. I sent him a small photograph of his grandfather fishing when he was 4 years old.

As we age, if possible, I think we should pass things along, hopefully with a story while it's still in your memory bank.

Carol said...

When my mother died, circumstances dictated that I could take only a select few of her special possessions away with me. I had the stories of all of them, and although I don't use them (really have no use of a Depression Glass cake server, after all) they are some of my most prized things. Seeing this, my daughter is already looking forward to having those things of her grandmother's, and some of my own special keepsakes. It helps keep the family story alive. I don't know how I'd feel if no one expressed interest.

Jules said...

I must admit, I am not a fan of anything which is to be 'kept for best'. Possessions are there to be used and enjoyed, memories made, not dust collectors.
I don't remember the contents of my grandmother's display cabinet - I do remember it was never to be touched! - but I do recall the bottle of Advocaat which always sat on the top :) X

Susan said...

My family heirlooms are most enjoyed and treasured. As for what happens to them after me, no guarantees. I'm okay with that. I'll be off to a new adventure and this life over and done.

Rachel Phillips said...

It gives me peace of mind to deal with my things as far as I can while I am here to do it myself so that is what I do.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I lived in one room for a few years and developed the discipline of not buying anything without throwing something else out. But looking around now I see that I'm rather in arrears as far as disposing of items is concerned. A job for tomorrow perhaps.

CharlotteP said...

You are placing too much importance on dust! My husband used to say that if visitors were coming to check on our housekeeping, rather than see us and enjoy the cup of tea in their hand they needn't bother!
I have been decluttering for the past year, (local charity shops have doe very well), and must say that a house with far less 'stuff' suits me very well, and has a generally calmer atmosphere.

Anne Brew said...

Enjoy your own possessions.
Try not to have too many.
Try not to care that most of them will be discarded when you go.
Label and if possible annotate ALL photos.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Anne I have labelled all photogrphs

Thanks - lovely to read all your ideas.

gz said...

Your son was right. These things are made to be used and enjoyed

Jennyff said...

I’m all for sorting out your possessions while you are able rather than leave the job to someone when you are gone. Getting rid of keepsakes doesn’t mean your memories go with them, it means there is much less dusting to do.

Anonymous said...

I am Maguy from France, and I enjoy reading your thoughts on your blog !
You are quite right I think in holding on to your memories, they are precious. But I have to say, this is a topic I think about, though I'm "only" 46. I was 28 when my mother died, and I felt overwhelmed by stuff when it came to selling the family house. I thought we had decluttered... we hadn't, not half enough. It added to the grief. I thought, I am not going to let the same thing happen to my son. So I slowly began to declutter my own things and now I appreciate what I have way more, and clearer spaces too. In order to love the things you have you have to be aware that you have them ! I realized I loved the memories linked with my mother's wedding china, but I had no use for the china itself. I carefully went through all the photographs and kept them for years, now I have passed them on to my sister. They are hers as well. I think there's something called Swedish Death Cleaning that sums it up well (grim name, though).

Kippy said...

When my mother had to go to assisted living, her home needed to be cleared out for sale. She had beautiful vintage Duncan Phyfe dining room set . It had meant a lot to her. I had no room for it. Most of her things went to an estate sale where no profit was made. No one wants brown furniture or inexpensive knickknacks. I kept a very few things that I use and favorite heirlooms. Not out of “you have to keep that because it belonged to ____ “. When I pass, the things will mean nothing to my heirs unless they just like the item. Keep what means something to you and you like and use the good stuff every day! I use my great grandparents sterling flatware every day and will start using Grandma’s crystal water glasses. If it breaks, at least it was enjoyed and whoever gets the intact items may never appreciate them as much.

Bovey Belle said...

We've told our offspring to keep the bits they want (they have an appreciation of old stuff) and to stick the rest in auction, for someone else to enjoy. We're trying to clear out what came with us in a recent move, now we have time to deal with it. Stuff too good to be given away to the charity shop. I have a bookseller coming out to make an offer on some of my antiquarian books etc.

Of course, the emotional pull of our belongings dies with us, although there are some WW1 family momentos which are staying in the family, as they are special photos of our family heroes.

For the moment though, we intend to enjoy our belongings.

thelma said...

Well as Debby said, everything has a story. So the story for the piano cloth and fine tea set I was struggling over on my blog Pat, had belonged to the father of Lotta my first MIL, he had according to her been the Dutch ambassador in China. Thinking seriously, I realised she must have recognised my love of history and family. So therefore both must be passed on to my grandchildren, the girls love delving into family history.
It is lovely to read in the comments though that most people have a similar problem of what to do with the accumulation of 'stuff'

The Weaver of Grass said...

- thank you for all your comments they make fascinating reading and it seems you are almost all of one voice.

Ellen D. said...

The older I get, the less stuff I need to keep. If I am not using it, I am getting rid of it. I let my kids take what they might need from the house but they often want something different from what I might offer and that's okay too. I care less about "things" it seems...

Anonymous said...

I think you should have pointed out to your carer/cleaner just how dusty and dismal the fireplace looked. You're paying someone to "bottom" the rooms yet the end result is dusty and dismal! Someone doing their job well wouldn't leave anything dusty and that's just general day to day cleaning without "bottoming"

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the emotional attachment to items causes problems. When my husband's great aunt died, she left a large chiffonier with family history to my husband. My mother-in-law decided she would keep it...and being a young bride at the time, I didn't make waves.
There were many homes we shifted in to, where it would have featured well , and twelve years ago my husband and I downsized happily into a quite tiny home. Now that she is in assisted living, the chiffonier has come to us. After asking siblings and their families if they would like it, no-one has room, including us! Many tears have been shed by sister-in-law and mother-in-law that we couldn't "take it in Aunt's chiffonier". so...it's here...it Iooms large and dark in our light little front room, and everyone's happy but us! -Pam, Aust.

The Feminine Energy said...

That question is as old as time itself, I think, my friend.

I read a quote once that has never left me and probably never will. It went something like "Nothing has any value whatsoever... except for the value we instill upon it."

It seems the next generation doesn't value the old things, handed down from generation to generation. I have several things here, in my possession, that I don't know who in the world I'm going to hand them down to.... since my children have no interest. It breaks my heart.

Oh well... shouldn't dwell on such things. Have a good Sunday. ~Andrea xoxoxo

sparklingmerlot said...

I have had to clear out both my parents' and in-laws' houses. I asked my sons if there was anything they wanted and they all chose a couple of things that meant something to them - memories they had from when they were kids. I hope that when my time comes my granddaughters will find things to take to remind them of me. I do plan to get rid of a lot of 'stuff', though, so they don't have to go through the heart-rending exercise of tossing someone else's treasures.
As for keeping things for "best" ... my parents had beautiful china and crystal that came out once a year, then in 1983 they lost everything in a bush fire. After that everything got used and enjoyed everyday.

Cro Magnon said...

Here we drink our Tea from mugs, but I'm determined that when in England again, we will use our fine Bone China cups. Several sets have been packed away for years. Time to get them out, and use them. A cup of Lapsang and a slice of Battenberg, all served in/on fine china will be very pleasant.

Mrs G said...

Use the lovely tea service and crystal. If a piece gets broken is it such a big issue? They were made to be used, not stored in a cupboard or boxes. Every day is a celebration to use the best things - especially as we get older!

Librarian said...

When my maternal grandma died, we had to clear out the house from top to bottom, where as many as 8 people used to live at some stage through 5he decades. My parents, my sister and I, we all had our own places by then, with our own households well equipped. But I was the one with the least money and was happy for the chance to replace my cheap 1990s mixed furniture with the much better quality things from my grandparents, two 1930s cabinets/sideboards and a stylish 1960s coffee table for the living room, as well as a 1950s armchair. Also, I took the cream coloured gold-rimmed china dining set that granparents got in 1933 for their wedding. They used it only on special occasions; for me, it is in daily use. All these things are still very much appreciated and make me remember two people I loved, and who loved me.
As I do not have children, when I‘ll be gone nobody will know the stories behind some of my things. And I won‘t mind then!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Cro - life would be poorer without Battenburg.

Anonymous - I have not a single complaint about my carer. At my request she 'bottoms' just one room each month in the hour she can spare for me. First month it was the kitchen, last month it was the bathroom and this month it will be the sitting room. I just need to smarten it up for tomorrow as her hour is not until next month, I would not under any circumstances point out anything to my carer because I cannot fault her care of me, the meals she does for me, the little extras she notices and does, her good humour. She is the best there is.

Bonnie said...

I am late reading this but I thank you Pat for this post. You have brought up a subject I have been struggling with for some time now. I am the youngest child and grandchild in my family and only a few older than me are still alive. I have inherited many family heirlooms from three generations. Some may be worth money but mostly it is the memories they hold. I have trouble getting past the feeling that I am letting my family down if much of this does not remain in the family, but I know that is not fair to my children. I have two sons and they are not interested in these items. I have one granddaughter that may be interested in a few items but these days all my children are into minimalism and don't want a lot of "Old things". I know I have to start reducing what I have and reading your post and all the comments is helpful to me. It helps to know I am not alone in my feelings. Thank you Pat.

Devon said...

I really enjoyed your post, thank you Pat. In 2011 my grandmother passed and as the only grandchildren, my sister and I felt the responsibility of keeping her special mementos, photo albums and heirlooms. My sister deplores clutter and asked me to keep it all. After a few years, I took a couple tubs to my sister and said I have no room, she reluctantly agreed to keep them. I felt relieved.
Sadly, my sister died a few years ago at 55 years old. As we were only siblings and her two sons were away in the military and not at all interested in keeping more than a few items each, I had to pack and move everything and decide what to do with it all. I almost cried when I found those tubs of our grandmothers belongings and once again had to figure out what to do with them.
I have told my children that I do not want them to feel burdened by my possessions. If there is something of meaning in my home, then take it, but don't feel obligated to keep anything. I agree with you Pat, our items have special meaning to us and give us happiness. Unfortunately, those same items can feel like a heavy burden and responsibility to others.