|Pretty Stuff at the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy|
Value, as in value of Things is a very fluid concept. There’s sentimental value, which can’t be added to a spreadsheet with an accompanying photo, or weighed or added up on a calculator. Then there’s monetary value, which can be almost as capricious.
We’ve been going through my MIL’s things (and I use the term “we” loosely, as I’ve been more peripherally involved than le monsieur and his brothers) in order to determine what should be kept, sold, donated or tossed. We’ve had items appraised and dealt with consignment people, and those who have a business reselling things on ebay. I’ve seen some families have terrible rifts over family possessions and estates; in le monsieur’s family everyone seems to be going out of their way to be solicitous and painstakingly generous and fair. As I mentioned before, most of us don’t have the space or lifestyle for the kind of household items that my in-laws collected over the years, so the vast majority is being disposed of one way or another.
It’s been an interesting lesson that the current value of anything has little relation to what was originally paid for it; some items that were quite expensive 10, 20, 30 years ago have little (if any!) resale value now, while others that one would think are insignificant have become minor collectors’ items (1980’s Lucite trays? Really??)
Clothing is especially fraught. Because she and I were roughly the same size, I’ve come under a lot of pressure to take some items. While she did have some nice clothes, they aren’t my style, as “nice” as they might be. At some level, I worry that I’ll be perceived as somehow disrespectful for not wanting things that belonged to her.
Despite our protestations, le monsieur and I have somehow wound up with a living room full of dusty boxes to sort through. Glass swizzle sticks, olive bowls, paper Hanukkah decorations, plaques and awards…it looks like a scene out of Hoarders and I have no idea what we’ll do with it all. The overwhelmed part of me just wants to set it all out on the curb on trash day.
Having had to deal with all of this Stuff has not only made me really want to have less Stuff, but has brought home that anything is only as valuable as the enjoyment we get from it now. Use your “nice” things now; enjoy them. And if you aren’t using or enjoying them now, give them away to someone who will treasure them, or sell or trade if you can. And buy anything only because you will love and use it, not out of any perceived investment value (unless you have a business doing so, of course).
I have a lot of heirlooms from my own family, many of which are packed away in boxes because they are either fragile or valuable or we have no place to put them. I’ve been thinking that it might be time to start selling what I can and perhaps donating the rest as there’s no one to hand them down to, and maybe someone else will get more enjoyment from them than we can. The sentimental value no longer seems to be enough to warrant keeping them. I’ve set this as a project for next year.
Do you have stuff you keep for sentimental reasons? To hand down to the next generation? Stuff you’ve inherited and would like to get rid of but feel guilty about doing so?
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