With the holiday season approaching, now is a terrific time to do what we like to call “The Purge and Distribute Method”. It’s not a catchy phrase, but it is succinct. And, no, it does mean you re-gift everything you no longer want!
Because the holidays bring us more contact with loved ones, there is an excellent opportunity to share family history, pass on extra household items, and stop acting as a storage unit for the family who don’t want to clutter up their own living spaces. Starting now can set you up for a “refreshed” New Year.
Concentrate on what is appropriate for your particular holiday visitors. Share the stories and histories of the people connected to important family pieces as often as possible with whoever is visiting. Let them know that that tarnished dinged-up silver tray is beautiful and valued because it was a wedding gift to their great-great grandmother and has been used every Thanksgiving since. These stories strengthen generational connections and enhance a sense of family tradition and belonging.
Gather the unwanted cooking and entertaining items for family members setting up new households. Let them have their pick of what they might find useful. Also consider decorating together for the holidays. There may be items that can be passed down to help start new traditions.
Now, for the returning adult children who still have most of their childhood under your roof, you may have to choose your battles. Clothing is fairly easy. The adult clothing that doesn’t fit, is out of style, or in disrepair, needs to go. The baby and children’s clothing often has a stronger sentimental tug, but be honest with yourself. Are your kids attached to it? Or, are you? Chances are their future children will not be wearing any of the items. And, if it was a childhood favorite, there are sure to be photos to keep the memories alive. Let them go.
The remnants of their school years are another pitfall. The artwork, essays, and report cards hold a lot of nostalgia for both generations. Commit to keeping only what fits in a small archival box. Taking photos can be helpful. Let your children part with whatever they wish. Don’t waste time and energy trying to convince them to hold onto every participation trophy and homework assignment. Respect their decisions, stay focused on the space and freedom you are gaining, and let it go. (Do you sense a theme?)
So, what do you do if no one is willing to make a decision and assumes it can and will stay in your house indefinitely? The key words are “your house”. Make it clear that it is all going - either with them or elsewhere. It is no longer staying in your house. Lay out a deadline for removal and stick to it. If items remain after the deadline, then the decision has been made and you are free to dispose of them as you see fit. Let it go.
Starting now before the frenzy of the holidays, will give you more space to entertain, help out others, and perhaps bring a little more calm to the season.
Thanks for reading,