Friday, 12 December 2014


In case you think I disappeared into a frenzy of Chicken Soup book signings, it is much more mundane matters that have been keeping me busy lately. One of my sisters recently proclaimed me as a member of the club sandwich generation. This, after I recounted some of our recent time spent with our children, grandchildren and parents. However, I am not complaining. We are grateful to have this time to spend with our loved ones. As I think about Christmas gifts and shopping lists, perhaps time is the most precious gift of all.

Last weekend we helped Pat's family move his mother into another retirement home. The previous home was just fine and the staff members were very helpful. However this new place is closer to friends and family, so visits will be easier for them. This is Rita's fourth move, since leaving the original family home about a dozen years ago. Through these moves her belongings have steadily dwindled. It really makes you think about how much we accumulate and how much we really need.

Now I am not advocating a life with few possessions. We all derive pleasure from many of our things and that's great. I remember thirty and forty years ago, how much Rita enjoyed her belongings. She worked in a china shop and would put items on a layaway plan until she could afford them. When we visited, she was eager to show off her new figurines, china and pictures.

By the time we moved her out of her apartment last January, her tune had drastically changed. Her treasured things now seemed like a confusing burden to her. "They're only things.  What am I going to do with all this stuff?  Where did that come from?  Take what you want.  Please." She does not have a kitchenette in this new room so there is no need for dishes. However, it is me, not her, who is having a harder time adjusting. It is hard to imagine that a person who collected and enjoyed dishes so much can be reduced to none. I simply could not leave her without dishes. On a bookshelf we left, among other things, six salad plates, decorated with shamrocks, just in case. The  china we took home will always serve as a reminder of her and her love of china and all things Irish.

It is amazing how much stuff we all have. If there is a lesson in all of this, it is that we should continually evaluate our possessions and ask if we really need to keep them. I shudder to think of our kids having to deal with the amount of stuff that is currently living in our basement.

Memo to self: For 2015, for every new item brought into the house, discard at least two.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading your post. I have been in downsizing mode for almost five years. Thought that when we moved to le petit apartment, we would need less. I inherited extra tea ware and porcelain nicknacks that came from our parents' final house and home. You can read about it here: Wishing you luck with enforcing the intake / discard rule!