Monday, April 11, 2011


"Donald, we have too much stuff!"

In the category of I-never-thought-I-would-hear-my-sweetie-say-that, this was a significant moment, a world record as it were. But in the last couple of weeks, LK has been unpacking boxes, sorting through stuff, putting some in the closets, some in the area designated for the garage sale, and some back into boxes.

It has been tough, physical work and she has been tired by the end of the day. And maybe it was a combination of fatigue coupled with a near total immersion in all the stuff she owns, but at some point in these past few days she decided we really do own too much.

I know I had written earlier posts making fun of her for having more than 200 pairs of footwear or 100 cashmere sweaters or seven sets of dinner dishes or more pictures than we have ever had wall space to hang them. But I loved that part of LK. She has loved acquiring beautiful things and she has certainly worked hard enough in her career that she need not apologize for buying whatever she wants.

And besides, having LK around meant no one raised an eyebrow at my 100+ neckties or 700+ bottles of wine etc. After all, LK did say "We" have too much stuff.

There is an interesting article in the Wall St Journal this week called "Downsizing Boomers Looking to Sell Their Stuff".  The gist of the article is that my generation never learned how to say No and acquired "mountains of accumulated stuff", as the article calls it.

Now entering retirement, we Boomers are either downsizing and moving to smaller places, looking for some extra money, or just finally coming around to realizing that we really do have too much stuff and should get rid of it. 

In our situation, there are several categories:
  • The Stuff We Just Don't Need Anymore: Business suits, briefcases, all but a few neckties, four cigar boxes, size 36 pants, size 38 pants, size 40 pants
  • The Stuff We Could Use But Probably Won't: Exercise equipment, the third barbecue, the digital voice recorder, bicycles, the cassette-based video recorder, the 5-year-old half bottle of red vermouth
  • The Stuff We Don't Need As Much Of: the fourth-through-seventh set of dishes; the fourth and fifth iPod speaker sets, the 50th-through-100th cashmere sweater, the paintings that won't fit on the walls, some of our 120 wine glasses, most of my 26 pairs of  underpants. On second thought, better hold on to those.
  • The Stuff We Had in Storage for Years and Never Missed: the electric piano, eight director chairs, the 7 or 8 suitcases we don't use anymore, the walking machine
The first date we set for the garage sale has passed, but we are still piling the things up that we hope to sell. We have already resigned ourselves to the fact that won't get great prices for most of our things, but as LK just said after sorting through her handbags and sweaters today, "If we just sold everything we don't want for a dollar, we'd make quite a bit of money," she said.

I don't know if it's classier to run a Dollar Store than a Garage Sale. But if it is, maybe that's the way to go.

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