When I was young, moving was so simple. When it was time to move, my husband and I would box up our stuff and then enlist the help of our friends to haul everything to our new home. In return for their free labor, we would supply beer and pizza. (We learned the hard way not to offer the beer until after our belongings were safely in our new place.) It was actually a pretty good system, and one that was used by all our friends because none of us owned very much.
You have no idea how much I long for “the good old days” when moving was such an easy process. Although my husband and I have no plans to relocate, we have spent the past several weeks helping my mom prepare for her upcoming move to a retirement community. And since that means she’ll be downsizing from a spacious house to a one-bedroom apartment, we’ve had to sort through all of her possessions in order to help her select just what she plans to take with her. And trust me, she has a LOT of possessions…..most of which are now in need of a new home.
Picking the furniture she wanted to take was the easy part. But once we moved on to her books, kitchen stuff, china, photos, towels, holiday decorations, clothes, keepsakes, etc., thing became much more complicated. No one wants to part with precious family heirlooms, but trust me, after you’ve “discovered” the fourth box filled with old dishes that some distant aunt brought back from her trip abroad, you really begin to rethink just exactly what is precious and what is not. Especially when you know that your mom’s new home doesn’t have room for most of it.
Don’t get me wrong, we did discover some family “treasure” among Mom’s boxes, and I couldn’t be happier about that. But the main thing I’ve discovered in the past few weeks is that most of us have far too much stuff. In this country, you don’t have to be rich to be able to fill your house with things that you don’t really need and may not even value. And even the things that are valuable in your eyes are probably things that your family and friends don’t really want.
So my advice is this: resist the urge to amass great quantities of anything. And I do mean anything. Because the time will come when you will either have to move somewhere smaller, or you will simply leave this life altogether, and some poor person is going to have to go through your stuff and try to decide what to do with all of it. And the longer it takes them to do so, the more tired and crabby they will become. Trust me on this.
The simple truth is that when it comes to material things, less is more. Always. Please think about that the next time you go shopping for something you don’t really need, or feel obligated to bring home yet another souvenir from your vacation. Remember it the next time you’re cleaning out a closest and decide to keep something you haven’t used in ten years “because it just might come in handy some day.” Not for you, it won’t. Which means it’s time to donate it to someone who really can use it.
I know the process of cleaning out Mom’s house won’t last forever, and when we’re finally finished over there, I’m turning my attention to my own house. Because there’s no two ways about it: it’s time for me to practice what I preach……