Let’s be honest here. The last thing any Boomer wants is to get stuck with our grandmother’s tacky French Provencal furniture. You know the era, complete with plastic covers on the sofa cushions, the strange lamps, muted gold colors, with ivory. At least our parents segued into Early American, which is still incredible stuff.
Saturday evening, I read an article written by a Millennial. It was aimed at those of us in the Baby Boomer generation who were, apparently burdening the little snowflakes by leaving them ‘stuff’. I gather the delicate snowflakes don’t want our stuff. They also don’t want us. It makes a heck of a lot of sense considering they are the generation who are downsizing, have no manners, can’t be confronted with anything that might not be agreeable, and have table manners worse than rutting pigs. It makes perfect sense.
The article came complete with instructions on how to get rid of what we have, while we are dumping our parents’ things. They don’t want those things either. They just want stocks, bonds, and money. Then they can buy their own disposable things at Ikea and Target. Our parents had furniture which was solid and did not fall over on us. The little snowflakes have furniture that is so flimsy, like they are, that it is a danger to their children. They must have operating instructions. Their little rug rat isn’t going to knock over Aunt Mabel’s mahogany dresser, trust me. The problem is they don’t give a damn who Aunt Mabel was and don’t want that ugly, unsightly old stuff in their new home with their designer grays and browns.
We have instructions to get rid of it. In fact, we need to have a downsize therapist come in and tell us what we should keep. Better yet, have a third party come in and just get rid of anything not viable. It doesn’t matter if it is the twine of Grandy’s bale of hay. That’s not valuable. His old cowbell isn’t valuable. Neither are the bellows he bought for my mother.
There are companies that come in and dispose of everything. Six to eight months later they pay you. They primarily want antiques, silver, and jewelry. They give everything else away, to charity. That’s the going thing – give it away to charity. Just don’t expect to make any money off anything. That’s for dealers – only. In fact, families are cautioned that nothing has value these days.
Let’s be honest here. The collectable and antique market died in 2008. The art market is starting to bounce back, a little. Collectables are primarily DOA. Jewelry is being purchased for the metal and the stones, but rarely together. Unless you know someone, it’s a total trap. Those gold coins are worth only what the current day’s ounce of gold is worth.
Things are selling better in places where the economy is starting to bounce back – places like South Carolina, parts of New England, and the cities. Apparently the midwest is dead. Texas is bouncing back. But – people are buying different things. Mid-century is big now. Interesting, since I’m keeping all the mid-century things. Anything older than that is no longer in vogue. If a person needs good furniture, that’s the way to go. Depending on the quality, paint it and distress it. That’s what I did. I’m getting rid of my distressed and keeping the good antiques.
I realized something Saturday evening. Those self-righteous people who are quick to explain that memories are more important thing things, and castigate you about having them, don’t have anything. I’m not trying to be nasty about it. I’m simply making an observation. A woman was recently nasty with me over the fact that it was more important to have loving memories of her mother. She was getting rid of everything her mother had, and putting her in a kennel. Found out she was adopted and never liked the adopted mother.
During times of stress things, and people get testy. Trust me, I am. It is important, though to try and anticipate what might be happening in the future. We can’t keep everything, but golly, don’t go postal on those of us who are trying to hold on to family treasures. That 1620 dresser might not be important to you, but it is too me.
So is my grandfather’s twine.
Suddenly, it dawned on me. None of us are the problem. It is how we approach life. It’s all about that bit of twine. When those of us who are sentimental have been deprived of things of sentimental value, not by the foibles of life, but family politics, it hurts. We hold on to that pencil, the sewing box, scissors, or twine. Those things become more important to us than gold. They are the last remaining things we can touch, which were touched by someone we dearly loved. One of the false things I’ve learned, over the years, is that we miss our departed loved ones more, not less. That piece of twine is terribly important. So are my grandmother’s handwritten instructions on how to play a certain game of cards. There is something comforting in those instructions.
I started thinking about my grandmother and great aunt, Mabel. When they decided to sell the house on Dupont Avenue, in Minneapolis, they brought in a professional estate sales person. They also made it perfectly clear that family members were not wanted. It left some very bitter feelings, especially when the Perkins high chair went to she who shall not be mentioned. They did save the Ladd dresser, a the trunk, and a couple things which were on the covered wagon when the Dustins were massacred in 1862. But, oh, well.
At least we don’t have the French Provencal.
This is about eras, styles and how we look at the world. I think it is also about compassion, understanding, and the ability to put ourselves in another’s place. Probate, distribution of family pieces and dealing with selling the house is pure hell. having to put up with the disapproval of acquaintances makes it worse.
I have learned if you put something out of the way for awhile, it’s much easier to give away, if you just do it. That’s what I’ve done. I’ll be giving more things away, before it’s over, and packed. At least, I hope I will.
I’ve not even started sorting my shoes….
God Help Us All!
There is a big bottom line here. Styles change. People change. I suspect one could turn the French Provencal into wood chips, or force it on some unsuspecting younger kid, after it has been painted purple. It’s the Ikea stuff that’s going to be falling apart one of these days. When it does, watch the Millennials start screaming for grandmother’s furniture. The best part is they are going to end up paying through their stuck up little snowflake noses for it.