kellyrfineman (kellyrfineman) wrote,

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Something like a downsizing post

So, I was making pie crust earlier, and thinking about my maternal grandmother, as I always do when making pie crust. You see, I have her pastry cutter. When she broke her house up to move to New Hampshire to live with my wonderful Aunt Martha, Gramma only took some furniture and personal effects for herself, and everything else was left to whomever in the family wanted it.

Her pastry cutter is one of the items I claimed for myself. Also, a pressed glass bowl that I think is depression-ware but my mother insists it was not "because you got it for free at the grocery store", and the timing of its acquisition is anyone's guess. Gramma used it almost daily to serve jello or pudding or fruit salad or even slivered cucumber salad. And a brass screwdriver that holds other, smaller screwdrivers inside its handle, like a Russian nesting doll, only it's a tool.

All of these items are humble, everyday sorts of items. All of them get plenty of use here at my house (especially now that I have mastered pie crust - I'll share my recipe in tomorrow's post, since I haven't put it here, but only shared it on Facebook). And the first two remind me of my grandmother in very real ways, remembering all the time I spent with her over the years as she made and served food in her kitchen, and allowed me to help. I learned several important things from her. How to mix cinnamon sugar. How to make French toast. How to cut up a whole chicken into parts. (Family members will be happy to know that I make MUCH better meatballs than she did; hers were tough and quite probably bouncy, and she often joked about them.) The screwdriver reminds me more of my grandfather, who showed it to me in the first place.

I have some other items, too: a pink glass candy bowl, some pickle dishes, a cut glass bowl, and several pieces of furniture. And they all have pleasant memories attached to them, but none of them evoke as many memories (and as many strong, positive memories) as those workaday pieces that I use all the time, just as my grandparents did.

My point (and I do have one) is that when it comes time to help someone else downsize, or to clean out someone's residence after they've died, there can be a tendency to want to keep ALL THE THINGS, as if that is going to keep that person's memory alive for you. Which is entirely okay, if you have the room for all those things. But if you don't, maybe you could pick a handful of those daily use sorts of items that have pleasant associations for you. That way, all the rest of the things can go to someone who needs those other items a bit more than you, or has the space for them.

And these aren't the sorts of decisions you have to make right away, either. Sometimes you simply have to take all of the things, either because of deadlines or emotional need, and that is okay, too. But later on, maybe this keeping of a few useful things is something to come back to.

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Tags: downsizing, essays
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