Have you ever been to an estate sale? A true estate sale, as in everything in the house is for sale, from the piano to the bed linens. Ryan and I went to one this weekend (which is not pictured here, this is an outdoor shop).
I was pulled in two directions. First: people swarming like vultures on someone else's stuff. Someone who had carefully cleaned and pressed her hand-embroidered linens, probably not realizing she shouldn't bother this last time because there wouldn't be another use by her.
We all rifled through and poured over each little item, grabbing and clutching what we deemed worthy of possession. It was weird. And exciting. A snoop's dream. That last thought made me chuckle as I browsed someone else's closet, a camel colored mohair coat, some golfing shoes and a stack of caps.
I wanted to take home an old mint green, metal sewing machine. $25. I imagined the woman spending hours there, creating for herself and her loved ones and wondered if sewing was to her what it means to me and if we would have been friends in another time. I'm still kind of sad about it, but just a little bit because as we walked from room to room, I kept thinking, those people aren't here anymore, but their stuff is. We don't get to take stuff with us.
Ryan is anti-stuff. He loves the traditional Japanese culture of simplicity and minimalism. Fold up your bed for the day and the room has a different function for the next 12 hours. He has a good point. We have crammed 8 people in a small 3 bedroom house.
But he married me. I really like stuff. Not figurines and mindless collections, per se, but I like the pretty.I have a huge garbage bag full of stuff to take to Good Will. It's been sitting there far longer than it should have been, but I find I am reluctant...but what if I need that sweater to make something out of, or what if someone asks where that stuffed rabbit is and breaks down in tears because it is gone forever or or or?
Our attachment to things is a funny thing. It makes me wonder if that sweet old couple was watching people rummage through their earthly possessions from above, holding hands, all the while yelling down to us that things don't really matter!
Spend more time and worry about people and how you treat them and if the tone of voice you used was kind and if you made sure they knew they were loved as you sent them off to work and school.
Making a house a home is important, and it is also important to create an environment where you feel peace and happiness, but. But. Stuff gives a momentary thrill while those with whom you build relationships, tending to those details more than the stuff, is where satisfaction and fulfillment come.
People are more important than things, my mom always says.
I would pick things up and put them down as I tried to talk myself out of needing them. I'm trying to become better at that. I came home with a single, small purchase intended for a gift that truly needed to come home with me (I told you I'm still working on it!)
But, when we stopped on our little day trip over the weekend at this pictured quintessential exemplification of STUFF, I said to Ryan, okay, but if you had to get something, what would you get?
That, he said.
Estate sales are fun...it is sometimes sad to see the estate auctioning off a family Bible or photos.ReplyDelete
That is the most colorful estate sale ever!ReplyDelete
Sounds just like my husband and I! haha...ReplyDelete
stuff person here. my parents and only sibling (all deceased) were stuff people. i'm 63, my daughters are non-stuff people. i have everyone's stuff, stuffed everywhere. a hoarder, of course not. when i'm gone, implosion probably. i sure like that pink roaster! :>)ReplyDelete
I've been trying to tame my purchases as well...with these exact mantras running through my head! My biggest downfall right now are lamps! I can't seem to get enough of them, although I did restrain this past weekend. I had a lamp in my cart and actually put it back after listening to the voice in my head :) Thanks for the post!ReplyDelete
FANTASTIC post. This will sit with me all week... wish I had read it BEFORE I sent the kids off to school. Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
this is such a great reminder katy. I've been working on simplifying. I'm pretty much a minimalist (which my mom can't stand - you always get rid of perfectly good things, she says). I did a rampage on the house last night while everyone was busy so I wouldn't have to hear any complaints. It feels really good, but there's still a bit left undone. At least I've stopped buying stuff just to try and make myself happy. Stuff definitely doesn't make you happy.ReplyDelete
My sister used to work for an estate sale company. She was one of the people who would go in and organize everything for the sale. We always joke about what our estate sales will look like one day. What will people say about us based on the junk we accumulate?ReplyDelete
Oh I love your blog! I know exactly what you mean! I'm with Ryan on his appreciation for Japanese simplicity, but I'm also like you -- loving the "pretty" -- and have grown to appreciate at some of the fun "stuff" that comes with kids (though I "only" have four ;-)). I remember one estate sale I went to before we moved last year, and how strangely bittersweet it was. I was actually in tears by the time I left and I haven't gone to one since.ReplyDelete
Wise words. And what discipline to come home with only one thing! I have only been to one and came home with a lot of fun jewelry.ReplyDelete
I agree--great reminder! I've been thrift shopping a lot lately, and just started estate sales and I think they are so much fun although I totally agree--wierd and I have thought the same about them watching us go through there stuff--some people at the last one I was at were downright crazy about getting their hands on all the vintage goodness, so it was a little sad. I don't NEED any of it. I do have a post in the works though on thrift shopping...so I'm not cured by any means but I'm working on it!ReplyDelete
So well said. I come from a long line of 'collectors' - people who can't throw things away and accumulate too much. I'm trying to buck that trend. But fabric is still my weakness. (Oi.)ReplyDelete
My Mom used to say the same thing. I enjoyed your musings. What a cool place to think on the subjectReplyDelete
ha ha...what a horse.ReplyDelete
So my husband's dad is the KING of estate sales and garage sales. Everything they own pretty much is used. We have taken a page from his book and love to garage sale every Saturday morning. It's permanently penciled in the calendar of our minds once the weather warms up.
An estate sale though...is kind of hard to rummage through. Thrilling, but make me contemplate on life too. There was one from a couple of years ago that I remember well. They were selling old, vintage ice cream containers that their mother kept her receipts in. The containers were so pretty...I wished I snatched up more and actually kept them. They sold them for a dime and I purged them a year later. Still...it was sad/weird/uncomfortable to take her receipt boxes. I too am trying to stop collecting so much stuff. We don't have the space which I was reminded of when we tried to make room for this baby. We got really good at throwing stuff out that we've been hanging onto for years. It felt good but stung a little...like ripping off a bandaid.
This comment is getting long. Wow...sorry. Great, thought provoking post as always. :) Thanks for always brightening my day Katy.
Great pictures and post. :) I am trying to bring in less stuff and part with stuff that we haven't used in a while. My sister reminds me that other people can use/need things I don't if I pass it on. I will say though that makes her all the much harder to buy gifts for and I'm not at the point in life yet where I can give nothing to my sister for her birthday and not feel awful and lame.ReplyDelete
I just love your photos, totally captured the spirit of the place.ReplyDelete
I am a fervent chucker outerer (you know what I mean) ever since growing up in a pretty disorganised home.
I think if I were to take anything from that estate sale it would have to be the giant pink chicken - that's gold!
love this! so true. so, so true.ReplyDelete
Wow! These pictures remind me of an open-air junktique store in Barberville, FL. I must take a ride out there again sometime.ReplyDelete
Our family of six are in the process of moving... We own a lot of stuff...trust me and I have to check every thing and asking myself the question : "do we really need that thing ?"and the answer is no more often... but things remind me a lot of souvenir maybe that's why is so hard to let things go...ReplyDelete
Sorry you inherited the "I need beautiful stuff" gene. Or the "fun collection" gene. Or the "maybe I could use that in a project" gene.ReplyDelete
Oh well. It's fun anyway.
Oh I grew up with an antique dealer dad and we have gone to so many estate sales. He would always let me buy a little trinket. I loved those days. Unfortunately now I have a house full of junk. I have a hard time purging.ReplyDelete
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You said it all so beautifully! I do love my stuff (the Bible even uses the word "stuff"), but I know that loving and serving one another is so much better than stuff. May we always be able to keep the proper balance...
I'm curious as to how you divide 2 bedrooms between 5 girls and a baby boy, but I'm sure you've come up with some ingenious system (future post idea?)
This is your best post ever. Well written and well done!!ReplyDelete
Okay. So, this is exactly how I'm feeling right now. I've hit the point in my life where I'm done having stuff. I want to spend most of my life doing stuff with my family, rather than accumulating, picking up, and taking care of unnecessary stuff. For more than a month I've been slowly but surely going through just about everything. The baby's room (she's on our room now) is a disaster area as it stores all this stuff for a yard sale. It hurts to get rid of this stuff, but in a good way.ReplyDelete
And I've recently realized I've become very picky too. All of this self-awareness has come on so suddenly, that I almost feel like I'm reeling from it.
Your post about stuff really hit home with me today. I hope you don't mind, but I referenced to your post in my own blog, at http://www.notjustclutter.com/2012/03/17/our-connection-to-stuff/.ReplyDelete
Karina--great post. Thanks for the link.ReplyDelete