In Your Prime: Things to please not give or throw away: A grandparents’ dilemma

Is it time to get rid of that seashell collection?
Caption
Is it time to get rid of that seashell collection?

Credit: Pexels/Pixabay

Credit: Pexels/Pixabay

Like many home-owning septuagenarians and octogenarians, my wife and I are trying to downsize; starting to give things away or throw things away. The kids and grandkids, like their entire generations, simply don’t want more towel sets, china sets, fancy glassware, useless knickknacks, paintings and pictures, etc. I’m sure many can relate.

But, there are a few things that we fervently wish to remain in the family somewhere, if only forgotten in an attic or dark corner. (Attic? No one has attics (or basements) anymore; they’re lucky if they can get a car in the garage.) Many of these things-to-please-not-give-or-throw-away have actual monetary value, but most are merely things of familial historic or emotional value.

So I wrote a list of them, along with their circumstances, and put it with all the other important computer files and papers for our son when we inevitably move on. We also mentioned it to him on occasion, but again, it’s hard to convey the emotion and attachment we have … and we understand that that emotion and attachment is not transferable.

Most of us have somethings comparable: Spode Christmas settings, antique Wedgwood, Royal Daulton vases, rare gold-trimmed Shawnee Pottery cookie jars, whole settings of depression glass … Does anyone care? Oil paintings by two deceased local artists who have become national names. And, for a different reason, two beautiful seascapes by a talented wife. Is there a place for them?

Or will it all be relegated to garage sales, or even worse, perused and picked over by clever eyes of intake people at thrift stores?

And the collections! What was it about our era that got us into collecting? Some may have monetary value, like hundreds of wheat pennies and silver coins, but those state and presidential quarters are probably only good to get a gumball or a cart at Aldi’s. A few items may actually have antique value, like great-great grandmother’s bentwood rocker. But who would want 150 old miniature perfume bottles, 100 old Tom Clark gnomes, or 800 Disney-duck comic books? What were we thinking?

Bottom line: If you’re approaching 80 and have a house, it might be good time to make a careful (and small) list of things-to-please-not-give-or-throw-away and note the reasons. Monetary value may be hard to convert; antique value can be explained; emotional value is even harder to transfer.

It also might be a good time to re-assess those collections of matchbooks, seashells, teacups, salt-and-pepper shakers, “collector” plates, etc. Let’s revisit each of them, enjoy again the story that each one tells, and then discuss their fate with our heirs that will some day actually have to do something with them.

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