I’m in my 70s and searching forward. At what level do our treasures change into a burden? I have a home filled with stuff. Granted, a few of its junk and muddle, however, many gadgets have tales behind them. I really feel like I’m the guardian of treasures handed on to me. It isn’t a materialistic attachment however an acceptance that I’m the keeper of our household’s historical past.

I’m one among seven kids, and we have been all blessed with extra household stuff than we may handle. Simply because it’s previous doesn’t imply we have to hold it, both. My attachment is to recollections of my grandparents and oldsters, the consolation and significance they positioned on them. As well as, after 45 years of marriage and two kids, we added considerably to the amount and the magnitude of stuff and recollections.

I’ve been abundantly blessed, and I’m really grateful. However, I additionally bear in mind the burden we had in dispersing my household’s possessions after they downsized from a 5 story home, stuffed to the brim, to a two-story condominium. It took us years and plenty of trip time to do the work.

After my dad died and my mother moved to assisted dwelling, we gathered in the condominium. We amicably took turns selecting gadgets one after the other. We had an appraisal and knew the deflated worth for tax functions. All of us walked away with personally significant treasures of the roughly equal worth of us.

After my mother handed, our sibling unit shifted. There were no extra competitors for our mother or father’s consideration, harkening a brand new relationship with one another. We grew to become nearer. The large household house is gone, and I had hoped that my residence would fill the hole and supply the venue for traditional household gatherings.

Then my husband died, I returned to stay in Portland and COVID hit. So now it’s simply me and my little canine, rattling around on this huge home, enjoying classical music all day to fill the void. Occasions have modified and we’re all dispersed, dwelling in separate lives.

However again in my actuality — what do I do with all these items? For one factor, I solely have two kids and 4 grandchildren. My daughter has a furnished residence, and my son lives in New York Metropolis in a small condo.

He has stuffed a part of my actual property (basement, storage, and closets) with issues for protected preserving till he has extra space. My son cherished ceramics in high school and at college, he was a prolific artist. Our house is adorned together with his treasures, vases, jars, and sculptures. Slightly than crafting small tiles to check the glazes, he made one thing sensible. There are containers of his tea or sake cup samples within the basement.

Occasions have been modified. Our kids entertain by ordering or selecting meals. They’re each wonderful cooks, however, will they pull out the nice china that must be washed by hand, polish the silver, or iron a damask tablecloth and linen napkins? They presently don’t have a house to retail nice china or silver. We acquired married in 1970, and these days, we acquired a variety of silver — a lot of it I don’t use. Nevertheless, it fills two massive inlaid hand-carved wood trunks made in Pakistan. They each have huge brass padlocks, and I hold the skeleton keys secured.

In Panama, I collected hand-stitched molas made by the Guna Indians. In Pakistan, I acquired hand-knotted Persian and tribal carpets over many cups of candy tea. My husband loved accumulating prewar brass (that must be polished). My favorite items are the brass camel bracelets that adorn our espresso desk, all the time a dialog piece. They’re reminders of driving in open carriages by means of the bazaars and following the camels with a rhythmic gait as they balanced a load of hay triple their dimension. Then there’s the artwork we have now collected from the Virgin Islands to China.

All of us collect books and have leatherbound Nationwide Geographic points relationship again to the Nineteen Seventies. The world is studying all the things online, and digital media is the best way to go. My basement has containers of papers associated with our household’s historical past, paperwork certifying our family tree, letters from my grandparents, generations of yearbooks, faculty data, and containers of images.

The photographs and picture albums we have now lovingly cherished are fading. They’re cumbersome and falling aside. The movies of our youngsters are on outdated expertise. I’ve journey guides from the locations the place we lived and others we visited. Some are dusty and in poor situation, however, all of them inform tales about our household’s historical past. How do you set up that, and to what objective?


As I’m getting older surrounded by all these objects and delightful recollections, I ask myself what to do with all the things? I want a dialog with my kids as they haven’t famous any particular attachment. The issues my dad and mom inherited have been a burden. They did their finest to protect it and ensured all of us had a household couch, a clock, and a few of the china or crystal that stuffed the pantry.

I don’t need our household historical past misplaced in a large property sale the place issues became financial worth, however, the historical past is misplaced. Does the historical past matter? I haven’t resolved this dilemma, nor do I know the place to begin.

This essay was produced by means of a category taught by Tom Hallman Jr., a Pulitzer Prize profitable reporter at The Oregonian.

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