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A Tale of 3 Downsizings

Category: Retirement Planning

June 5, 2013 — We surveyed our members last week, asking them for future article and survey ideas. It wasn’t much of a surprise to see downsizing and moving right up there near the top of the list, since we’ve noticed baby boomers love to share their downsizing travails and experiences. To answer that need we’ve prepared this article, which will be a companion piece to “12 Steps to Successful Downsizing“, which we also just wrote. This article will report on the experiences of 3 baby boomers who just went through the downsizing process.

A Really Big Move for Sandy –
Newly retired Sandy and his wife had had just about enough of living in an expensive New York suburb. Their taxes were astronomical, and so was just about everything else, including their country club. Skiing and outdoor buffs all their lives and very familiar with the West, they moved in May to Colorado’s Banana Belt – west of Denver and near the Beaver Creek resort. So far they really love their new lifestyle, although they are sad to report their downsizing is still an ongoing process.

Knowing they intended to move, they started de-cluttering last fall in preparation for putting their home on the market in January. Long time collectors, they had many beautiful things in their home. The good news was that the house sold quickly and the deal was closed in April. The bad news was that that success made the downsizing process a lot quicker than they had intended. So in just a short time the couple went from doing a pretty decent job of divesting their stuff to a mad scramble. Along the way they bought their home in Colorado. This May the movers delivered what was left of their worldly goods to the new home – 300 boxes in a 53′ moving van!

Here are some of the things the couple learned going through this process:
– Start now – it takes longer than you think
– You can’t believe how much you have to throw away
– Furniture is really hard to get rid of
– Craigslist is full of scammers; and who wants strangers traipsing through in a tag sale
– It’s hard to throw away stuff – like books you love but will never read again
– Knowing what to take to your new home; a lot of stuff you like just won’t fit or work
– Clothes – the clothes that work for a New York executive just aren’t needed in the mountains. Sandy disposed of 30 shirts along with piles of other really nice clothes
– Know where does the stuff is going to go in your new home. Is your new home ready to receive it? If you tell the movers to stack it in the garage you are just adding to your work. If it won’t fit you are creating a second downsizing
– Unpacking is painful
– Some decisions are particularly wrenching: family albums, military medals, honors, and papers from ancestors who could be biographical subjects, children’s books and clothes you’ve been saving for your kids’ kids, a godfather’s desk, a leatherbound Encyclopedia Britannica set.

His Advice
Having just gone through the process Sandy has learned many lessons about downsizing. Here are his top pieces of advice:
– Start earlier than…early
– Get your relatives and friends involved – better to give them anything they want than throw it away
– Tread lightly with important pieces of family history. These items deserve more time and attention to the decision

One final question – how do you think you will feel a year from now?
“Liberated, and a whole lot better!”

Jan Goes from Tudor to Victorian
Jan Brogan is a mystery writer who lives in the Boston suburbs in a 5 bedroom, 5000 sq.ft. Tudor. In a few short months she moves up a few centuries and royal lineages to a 2200 sq.ft. restored Victorian. And even though she and her husband have already filled a large dumpster, there appear to many more divestitures like that before they are ready to move.

Jan had some interesting advice for Topretirements members. She urged us all to think carefully about what you want in your next life iteration, because it might not be what you have always thought. For example, she was tired of living in a rural environment where she had to drive everywhere. She thought city life in downtown Boston would be for her. But after a lot of searching, she determined she wanted something halfway to that – a much smaller home still in the suburbs, but just a short walk to downtown Dedham. A self-described person who keeps friends better than making new ones, Jan wanted to keep her car and be able to visit her friends who still live in the suburbs, while also having the option to take public transportation into Boston.

Some other advice:
– Start early, particularly with the kids stuff. That will be hard and very emotional, be prepared for it
– Talk to friends who have gone through downsizing and get their advice and ideas. Most of Jan’s friends told her they can’t believe they waited so long to do it. One friend impressed her with the comments that we are all just “all we are doing in these big houses is warehousing our stuff”. So, why not get rid of it sooner and save trouble and money.
– Jan and her husband are really looking forward to using their new home and the things in it, instead of just rattling around in a their current too-big home.
– Pay attention to what will work in your new home. In her case, although Tudor sounds close to Victorian stylistically, it really isn’t.

Tim Downsizes
Tim and his wife went from a stunning home on the Connecticut River (with corresponding taxes and maintenance costs) to a restored barn closer to the coast. The first step was cleaning out that big house, putting what they decided to keep in storage (with the added difficulty of not knowing what their new home would be like), and moving into a very small rental. Their situation was made easier…and harder… because their current landlord is very flexible about when they leave their apartment. The result is moving piecemeal into the new place; as it drags out, it has left them feeling exhausted.

Obviously this couple has learned a lot along the way about how to part with both their treasures and the things they no longer care about. Tim is quite philosophical about the process. He advises that positive planning can actually make more of less, or addition by subtraction. When you are downsizing you are always fearful to some degree of losing elements of your home and family lifestyle that you become accustomed to. But in reality you can gain and improve your lifestyle by downsizing. Those improvements includes gains in efficiency, cost, flexibility, even the opportunity to purchase a second home with your newly liberated capital.

Comments? Please share your moving and downsizing stories, particularly your best… and worst… tactics and decisions. Let us know in the Comments section below.

For further reading:
12 Steps to Downsizing Success
Downsizing Checklist and Tips
Topretirements Members Getting Ready for Big Moves
eDivvyup – a Web-based tool for dividing property
How to Run an Estate Sale
About Home Downsizing (eHow)
Downsizing Tips (Yahoo)
Downsizing Baby Boomers Looking to Sell Their Stuff (Smart Money)

Posted by Admin on June 4th, 2013


  1. Hi,

    How about an article on upsizing (and I don’t mean McDonalds). We will be selling a 2020 sq ft home, retiring in a 3,252 home in Pa on a lake only 2.5 hrs from where we live now in NY and only 1.5 hrs from three grandkids and only 40 minutes from an airport. It’s a gated community with indoor and outdoor pools and clubhouse and lots of outdoor forests and waterfalls. We bought some new stuff, kept some old that works well in the new home. Had a smaller summer home and sold that to get the big one but could only afford it if we ended up retiring there. With the economy and all we’ll keep working a few more years until Medicare kicks in since healthcare would cost $12k a year if we retired before 65, about $7k a year once Medicare becomes the number one insurance plan. While working we’ve put on siding, a new roof and new applicances so it will be less likely we’ll have major expenses once retired. We got a big house since the price was right and once we sell the NY house we’ll have money left and plenty of rooms for family and grandkids and lot for them to do. Only problem is they are busy with work and school so they cannot visit as much as we’d like but you can’t have it all. We don’t like real hot weather so we decided not to move away from everyone to a place where no one lives close by. If we get bored with the winter weather we might move somewhere else in ten or so years but we do have family in San Diego and they have an extra bedroom so all we need to pay for is airfare and we can go during the cold winters. They will want us so we can babysit! Win Win as far as we are concerned.

    by scott cunningham — June 5, 2013

  2. I’m visiting my Mom for three weeks this summer and hope to assist her with downsizing. She’s 97, sharp as a tack, and is doing well in her own home (with some help from the local Commission on Aging). She has a house full of memories, and what I really want to do is not only help, but do a lot of talking and reminiscing. I see this is as a good ay for us to get even closer and perhaps open a few channels of memory that she wants to share. By the time we finish the process, I hope to be able to put my Mom’s memories down in print, so that she can rid herself of so many *things* but hold on to their meaning.

    by Judith — June 5, 2013

  3. My mom is a 77 year old widow,and lives in a ranch style home in the DFW area. Her husband was ill with cancer for two years before passing in 2010. All of us children are out of state. Though organized and tidy in the past, the combination of grief, exhaustion and less Social Security money left Mom a shadow of herself. In 2012, she was finally strong enough emotionally to start making decisions about her new future. The past two winters, I have spent about 3 weeks with her devoting half the time to de-cluttering and half to taking her to visit family. We can handle 2 to 3 hours of “decision-making” in the mornings, but not more. As Judith mentioned, it is fun to waltz down memory lane for both of us, but not when you are tired and feel pressured! Year 1 was getting paperwork done, and focusing on health and safety by rearranging the kitchen and baths so she could reach items she uses everyday. We set up boxes in the spare bedroom for each child’s family, a box for her husband’s family heirlooms, and an area for book/movie donations that she was to fill through-out the year. Nothing happened. Year 2 she was more mentally ready to weed-out. We filled those boxes, donated 80% of everything in the closets and attic, and hosted a family workday/pizza party where we did some much needed house cleaning/maintenance and distributed some family heirlooms (clocks, china, etc.) It was a nice celebration. We also made a list of home repairs (10 years of deferred maintenance) and hired a contractor to get the house ready for sale in 3 years. At her request, we are “loaning” her the money for repairs to the house which will be paid back from the estate. I feel better about her “aging in place” with the home repairs done. I also paid her for the tax write-offs for all of the donations. Next year, we will tackle the photos, and I am looking forward to spending more time sorting with my mom. No one wants the furniture. We will donate everything to charity rather than have a yard sale.

    I feel blessed to still have her with us. And, I feel relieved that so many decisions have been made because I know when she passes, I want to be able to just grieve and not be faced with tons of decisions.

    by Cindy M. — June 5, 2013

  4. Also, I sure could use any advice on what to do with the plastic tubs of photo albums I have. Is there some sort of scanner I can feed them into that will save each one as a pdf or am I just dreaming 😕

    by Susan N — June 6, 2013

  5. Susan (et al), one certainly can scan old pictures (including slides). Cheap scanners are available (even as part of all-in-one printers. Speed would be an issue … depending upon # of pics. Check Walmart, Sears, Best Buy etc for scanners. Not certain, but one may also be able to have the scanning done for you … check online and Staples, Office Depot, etc. You could have them done as electronic files for storage on your PC, a USB device, CDs/DVDs or to be placed on a “cloud” (internet) server somewhere. Thing to remember is that whatever format you use will someday be obsolete (remember Beta video, 78 records, 8-track tapes?). More and more, I feel that my mental memories are all I have, and when THEY go … well, why should I be concerned if they exist elsewhere … yeah, just me … I’m strange that way … and some say, many others too! 🙂

    by Mad Monk — June 6, 2013

  6. Scan the pics and have them printed on good, non-acidic paper. Should last for a good long time. My sister and I both have albums full of scanned photos — nice that we both can have copies!

    by Judith — June 6, 2013

  7. Don’t understand why anyone retiring would want to upsize? I guess more room for company and more expensives.

    by Harlan — June 6, 2013

  8. I began the sorting process recently of old pictures. I had ended up with my mother’s pictures as well as my own from 40+ years. Since I love organizing things (I’m a librarian and we love to organize) I began by culling the pictures in which I didn’t know anyone. This included old family photos that I don’t have a chance of finding out who the folks are since everyone is dead who can identify the people. This may seem brutal but it’s practical. Then I began resorting by category. One folder of my daughter’s pics, another for my husband’s family, etc. You decide what makes most sense based on your situation. I ended up with a lot of old (1920s-1940s) photos of my mother’s family and decided to have these scanned by a firm out in CA called Yes Video. I also sent them a couple of VHS tapes that I wanted put on a DVD. You can find them online by doing a Google search and there’s usually a coupon attached.

    by Carole — June 6, 2013

  9. May an older reader make some suggestions about helping parents. You are so wise who are spending time with parents and documenting for a memoir. I did not ask enough questions while my mother had a good memory, and my siblings and I all remember things differently. Those of you who spend several weeks a year visiting parents and helping them sort are saints!

    by Moving South — June 7, 2013

  10. I spent many years as a trust officer, responsible for inventorying and cleaning out homes of those who have passed away, when family is not willing or available to help. It was really so sad to see the accumulation of memories that no one wanted, and the fights over what siblings and others thought they were entitled to. Not wanting this process to repeat, I helped my mom sort things out during her lifetime. Before she passed away, we organized everything in the living/dining room area, and all of the kids spent a day at the home. Each sibling got to claim an item, telling the story of why that item had special meaning. Any other sibling could protest, but none did. It was a wonderful day, remembering, picking out treasures from childhood that had special meaning. And Mom got to see that her treasures would be remembered. It made the final steps so much easier, because all that remained was donated and removed. Besides, you don’t want your kids laughing at what you kept. Make those decisions ahead of time!

    by Roxanne — June 8, 2013

  11. Dear Moving South,
    I love spending time with my Mom, and I’m so glad for the opportunity.
    I wish I’d spent more time with Dad when he was alive, too.
    The most important thing, I think, is for folks to know how much we love them while they’re still with us. And they do know, whether the words are spoken or not.

    by Judith — June 8, 2013

  12. Regarding photos. . .I’ve given this 3 years of thought, and decided on the following steps. For Mom, I made a Shutterfly book of the generations she knows to present since she is not computer savvy. I have a genealogy site on (small trees are free), and I am going to scan a FEW (3 or so)photos (child, home, graduation, wedding, group reunion photo or obit.) into that site. No one wants to fool with a bunch of bad, unorganized photos, so I am giving my extended family the “gift” of an organized, EDITED collection of the best that can always be found on the Internet. If a relative wants to convert it to a book or hard copy, he or she has that option on the site. As the family grows, I will scan the Christmas card photos we receive. I am naming the jpegs of the scans by person lastname.first name.yeartaken.

    by Cindy M. — June 15, 2013

  13. My advice is to view the video of George Carlin (deceased) speaking about STUFF!

    Great and vulgar language (?) is included but then everything I hear coming from the “govinmint” is vulgar and offensive too.

    Georges’ vulgarity is comical – govinmints is sad and harmful.


    by Robert — July 17, 2013

  14. In regards to pics: I just scanned and filed on my computer one photo album.
    Yes, it takes a while!!!!! But it gives you an opportunity to adjust the pic
    to your liking (helpful cause I am not the best photographer) So far I am filing by my sons age (only child).

    It was suggested to use different techniques to store pics and make several copies to be put in different area’s. I am making copies on DVD, External Hard Drive and Flashdrives for each set. Then making a copy for myself and one for my son. That way if one form gets defective (they all have that possibility) then you have another set. If my set gets ruined by flooding (?) then my son will also have a set.

    Once saved the pics can be adjusted to your desires and added into different formats – lots of possibilities!

    My dilemma now is what to do with the original photo? especially if it is from generations past!

    by Mary — July 19, 2013

  15. I’ve made photo albums for each kid to take when they establish their own household. I have one photo album of my own, and one from my spouse. I won’t give up the albums. When my spouse was battling early onset Alzheimers, the albums helped our family so much. Even now, I see that the kids (in their early to late 20s) all have showed the albums to their new girlfriends and boyfriends. I do add labels to the pictures though – sometimes funny but always identifying who is in the pictures for future generations. Extra pictures can be scanned and retained on disks or in the cloud (although I’m not confident about electronic media having plenty of stuff on those old floppy disks and the little hard disks that I’ll never see again). I’m getting rid of lots of stuff in preparation of downsizing, but those albums and photos are too precious to me.

    by Sharon — July 20, 2013

  16. I trust good quality paper to remain longer than anything.
    Gadgets will be replaced, thrown away, broken, outdated.
    Paper remains.
    As for the original photographs (especially if they are very old):
    Keep them away from the sun (or any light for that matter), do NOT glue them into scrapbooks (the glue will eventually discolor). Best thing to do is to get in touch with an archival storage supplies outlet ( is a good place to start, they offer supplies to archive just about any kind of document).

    by Judith Keefer — July 21, 2013

  17. […] further reading: A Tale of 3 Downsizings 12 Steps to Downsizing Success Downsizing Checklist and Tips Topretirements Members Getting Ready […]

    by » 6 More Downsizing Tips from Here and There - Topretirements — July 6, 2015

  18. My Mother passed away in 2013 and I have yet to clean up all the stuff I dragged home from her house. It is somewhat depressing. Then there are the photo albums that I don’t even want to open to dredge up old memories. The photos go back to the 1950’s and over many years. I keep saying to myself what am I going to do with these albums because they take up room I really don’t have to begin with. I looked on the internet for Photo Scanning Service and found a place in Niceville, FL. I would post the link but a few times I have posted links and they get removed. The place advertises different packages and one is $59 for 500 pictures. They scan the pictures and then put them on DVD. I did a quick read and will need to look into it further but I think for me this could be the answer to the clutter situation. I do believe they send your pictures back with the DVD’s. Then the question is what to do with the pictures when they do return! I have a scanner but to me it would take way too much time! $59 sounds pretty reasonable.

    by Louise — October 3, 2015

  19. Today I did a chore I despise and that is cleaning out the curio cabinet. It is a very small cabinet about 6 feet tall. It has mirrors, glass and wood. I mostly have birds in the cabinet. They are not very valuable at all but when I bought them they appealed to me. However, cleaning out this cabinet is just not a job I relish! Probably took me two hours to wash the glass shelves, the mirrors, glass windows and wood. Then wiping down the birds. I am thinking to myself, why on earth am I doing this? To think when I first got married we had nothing and lived in a two bedroom mobile home. Now I have a good sized raised ranch with just the Hub and me in it and it’s filled to the brim! Never had kids either to blame the clutter on! Why do we think we need and want so much stuff to then find places for it and then have to take care of it. UGH! I keep trying to convince myself ‘ LESS IS BETTER’!

    I used to work in Research and Development in the food industry. Everything was stainless steel, concrete floors and walls. We had to sanitize/wash/hose down the walls, floors and equipment at the end of each week and I used to think to myself, ‘this is the type of home I would love to have’! Hose it, soap it, rinse it and all the dirt goes down the drain! My dream house!

    by Louise — October 3, 2015

  20. Louise – Your posting really rings true with me too! I have a hutch, where I’ve put my “good” stuff. Why did I think I needed bone china, sterling silver and crystal when I was young? I also put my Mom’s Hummel figurines in there. They remind me of her, but I despite cleaning them (and I don’t even think I like them much.) My deceased spouse gave me a lot of jewelry — such as Rolexes, but I prefer my Timex with the nice comfortable flex band and easy-to-read numbers. My kids don’t want any of this stuff: not the china, silver, Hummels, jewelry… my daughters work in health care and don’t wear jewelry. A sleazy relative has contacted me and asked to take anything that I’m downsizing, but that’s another story. I keep telling myself that someday my kids will want the valuable stuff for themselves or for grandkids. I guess I’ll just keep deferring a decision as long as possible.

    I work with someone who’s cleaning out his house after his wife died. Every time he visits his kids he brings a box of the “heirloom” stuff to them. He says he doesn’t know what they do with it after he delivers it to them, but at least he feels he is giving it to them.

    My kids get upset when I talk about weeding through the Christmas stuff. Yeah, they’re still in their 20s in apartments or townhouses with no storage, but they are begging me to keep all of the Christmas junk until they have their own homes. It’s amazing to me that no one wants a piece of jewelry worth thousands, but the kids will get into arguments over who gets a $10 Santa in the future.

    by Kate — October 4, 2015

  21. Kate, my thoughts on your situation is this. First, none of your children want the STUFF even though it is valuable. Second, it IS valuable so consider selling it! Some jewelry stores will buy antique jewelry. Some places buy gold and silver. You can sell it on ebay. If you never have sold things on ebay, find an ebay seller assistant or a friend who can help you. I sell on ebay quite often. My Hub’s got a lot of tools and little by little we are selling them. If you don’t need the cash you make from the jewelry, Hummels and STUFF, give each one of your kids cash money! If they balk at that give them gift cards for grocery shopping, pre loaded Amex, Visa or Mastercards. You have stated you don’t particularly like some of the watches and if you are not wearing the jewelry just sell it. Maybe keep one or two pieces and then later on you can get rid of them too if you want to.

    As far as the Christmas ‘junk’ be a little creative! Do any of your children have under bed space? Buy a good size plastic container with a lid that would slide under their bed filled with the ‘junk’. Or you could get each kid an over the door shoe holder type storage bag and fill each shoe slot up with ornaments. They can hang it on the back of a door or on the wall in back of the door. You will have to analyze each kids storage situation and SURPRISE them with the filled up containers! There are specialty ornament plastic holders for Christmas junk. Not sure where you buy them but I have seen them in catalogs.They may be more bulky to store though. I have heard people also store canned goods under living room furniture and believe it or not, inside the opening of a recliner chair foot rest. Some people use ottoman’s as a storage solution or vintage suitcases stacked on top of one another to make a coffee table/side table and can use the suitcases for storage. OR they can use their own suitcases just as long as the STUFF can be easily removed when suitcase is needed!

    I also have 4 Hummels I have no particular love for. They are on a corner shelf and out of the way. They were a gift and I had to buy the shelf to put them on. LOL!

    We came into this world with nothing and will leave with nothing…why do we saddle ourselves while we are alive?

    by Louise — October 4, 2015

  22. Kate, forget the sleazy relative. We all have one in the family. They are takers and not givers and only have one thing on their minds and that is to GET what they can by any means. Sob stories, poor me stories, claim sentimental reasons that are fake!

    by Louise — October 4, 2015

  23. Kate, In regard to your Rolexes, I see there is a place in FL that you can either ship your watches to and they will evaluate condition and current value, then will call you with an offer. If you don’t feel comfortable shipping to them they have a brick and mortar store in Miami Beach, FL you could go to. Go to youtube and put in the search box:

    How to sell your used Rolex watch online

    You should find a short video on it.

    Maybe check with a reputable jewelry store in your area too.

    With the cash money these watches could generate, your daughters can add to the down payment of new homes! Maybe if you could get your daughters interested in helping you sell the watches, you all could get some joy of doing this together. Maybe this could be a new way to downsize for you! Selling your items and giving the money to your daughters. We also have pickers in our area who will sell your stuff so you don’t have to. However they get 40% and you get 60%. A hefty fee but might be worth it for some hard to get rid of items.

    by Louise — October 4, 2015

  24. Kate: Your posting also sounds a lot like the position I am in now. IN the middle of downsizing and will be going to Northern Phoenix to look for an 2-bedroom apt in the next couple a weeks. Right now I am in Houston with a 2400 sq ft house. People see what I am doing and say “How can you give this up?” I figure how can I keep it. It serves no purpose and the memories that I have of my husband are that, just memories. I do not need the things to bring him to mind.
    It’s really nice to have friends to help. I am in a situation where my husband did everything and I have to go thru all the papers and whatnot just to make sure they are important or not and what to keep or shred. Slow work, but when I get done—-WOW!!
    As I am getting things out of the house I am realizing how silly it is to have so much stuff.
    And Louise is right. We all have a sleazy relative. amazing.
    Good luck
    Sharon A

    by SharonA — October 4, 2015

  25. I was caught up in the fact that so many of the heirlooms came from my deceased spouse, so they had emotional connections. However, I really loved Louise’s suggestion to perhaps give the kids the money from the sale of items for the down-payment of their first homes. That’s a tip that I think my spouse would have embraced. Thank you!

    by Kate — October 5, 2015

  26. Kate, Another way to think about it is if you hold onto the STUFF and when you pass away your daughters will inherit it. At that point, if they still are not interested in it they will just put it in a drawer or they might sell it. But if you sell it now, and you give the money to them now, you will be able to see the joy of them in their dream homes knowing you helped them! How great is that! Kind of like recycling! I am sure your spouse would be proud of your decision. Good luck with whatever you decide!

    by Louise — October 5, 2015

  27. I’m working my way through the immensely popular book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” While most of the time I’m giggling (or laughing hysterically) over the things the author is suggesting, the basic premise is sound: If, upon holding an item, it does not spark joy, then out it goes. That has helped me immensely in deciding what to get rid of, but now my issue is what to do with these things that I’ve decided to discard. Not everything is junk, although I’ve been filling quite a few trash bags! So, I will be trying my hand at Ebay selling, and things that don’t get sold will go to Goodwill.

    by Kim — October 5, 2015

  28. You might consider contacting your Animal Welfare in regard to donating some things. They might have tag sales now and then to help raise funds for the care of the animals. It is a constant struggle for them to maintain a stream of income.

    by Louise — October 5, 2015

  29. For the books you love and other items that are likely to be used by someone else please donate them.

    As a sentimental fool and genealogist the military documents/medals, schoolwork, christening dress I would keep them.

    Everyone has the right to their own opinion but I hate to see irreplaceable stuff trashed for the sake of downsizing.

    by Debbie — October 5, 2015

  30. This comment was sent in by Debbie:

    For the books you love and other items that are likely to be used by someone else please donate them.

    As a sentimental fool and genealogist the military documents/medals, schoolwork, christening dress I would keep them.

    Everyone has the right to their own opinion but I hate to see irreplaceable stuff trashed for the sake of downsizing.

    by Admin — October 5, 2015

  31. I concur with Admin about tossing out irreplaceable stuff for the sake of downsizing. We all place different values on things, but I think it is worth checking with the person who was christened in the christening dress to see if he or she wants it, or, asking sons and daughters about military documents or medals (my dad didn’t want his, but I took them), etc. Maybe keep one thing for each year that means something special of children’s schoolwork. I have one plastic file box that looks like it is made out of birch wood, and I keep those types of things in there. I do go through it at least once a year to winnow it down to what is truly meaningful to me, since I add things during the year. I lean toward minimalism, but I see no reason to accept anyone else’s version of what it means to me, and I keep things that another minimalistic person would not.

    by Elaine C. — October 6, 2015

  32. Elaine – Very true. Ultimately a lot of people do have some heirlooms that you just can’t downsize. My wedding dress was made into an old-fashioned unisex Christening gown, for example. It has been heirloomed. I figured any daughters would want to select their own wedding gowns, but the expense of a Christening gown for young couples in the future could be avoided by having a family heirloom. My daughter was the first to be christened in it, but all the kids know that it’s available for grandkids, great-grandkids etc. They don’t have a place to put it yet. However, that’s something that they have agreed will be saved for the future. I did finally take my wedding accessories to Goodwill though…sigh. I bet they end up as part of someone’s Halloween costume LOL.

    by Sharon — October 7, 2015

  33. The Christening gown is something that family members want for future use, so it will become a tradition and a legacy. How wonderful! Wedding dresses are so personal to the bride that it isn’t surprising that daughters want their own. I donated my wedding dress decades ago, and haven’t missed it. I have beautiful photos of it (and me) so I can look at them when I want. It’s a bit of sting to feel when one’s treasured possessions become another’s Halloween costume, but at least it is getting used. Who knows? Maybe someone will treasure your wedding accessories.

    by Elaine C. — October 8, 2015

  34. Another idea for a wedding dress – my daughters and I cut the lace off my dress. They each used their share of the lace to wrap around the stem of their own wedding bouquets., as well as around the flower vases for their head tables. There is still enough lace left for grandaughters to use or sew into the hem of their own gowns someday! Beautiful and touching accents, and I no longer have to drag a huge storage box around!

    by SandyZ — October 9, 2015

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