Our house has sold. After 23 years of living in it and filling it up, we have to be out in a few days, along with 100% of our "stuff." This blog post is a Public Service Announcement to those of you who are facing the same challenge.
First of all, I came up with the term "ruthless purging" to describe our move because I'm not just packing up all our "crap" and moving it into our next house. We've already owned our new house for over two years, and it's about 85% furnished. I don't want, nor have room for our old furniture. Not to mention our clothes/furnishings/kitchen items, etc. I'm moving from a midwestern home to a coastal beach home. The decors are completely different. Also, the climates are different. I'm moving from a state with four distinct seasons, to a state with much milder winters. All good reasons to start fresh in our new house.
So, going through all our stuff, I used the following approach:
1) First preference is to donate. Can someone else get good use out of this item?
2) Second preference is to pitch. If it's old, worn out, not in good shape, it's time to end its life.
3) If we absolutely need the item or can't live without it, we bring it with us.
Here's a look at the donation options I employed:
Clothes: When we put our home on the market in May I went through all our closets and
donated 7 big garbage bags of clothes. When we sold, I went through them again and donated another 7. I donated them to a local mission and I was particularly happy that I was able to donate about 6 winter coats and 3 pairs of snow boots. Won't need them where we're going! But someone is going to be warm this winter.
Furniture: We were able to get "takers" for all our furniture via people we knew. In addition to both our sons getting furniture for their own homes, we were also pleased that when we spread the word among extended family and friends, people came forward with "I've always loved that piece." At least we know our furniture not only went to someone who could use it, but someone who really loves it.
Furnishings: This covers a lot of ground: paintings, mirrors, clocks, kitchen items like pots, pans, small appliances, serving dishes. You name it. We have an organization in town called Habitat Restore. When a new Habitat for Humanity home transitions to its owner, sometimes that owner needs help furnishing. The home items donated are available for sale at extremely low prices.
Musical instruments: I got a guitar when I was 12 years old. It became a big part of me for at least 15 years. I took it on vacation every year, I took it to college, I took it on spring break trips, and even my semester in Mexico City. The guitar case is plastered with bumper stickers of everywhere that guitar and I traveled together. I did a lot of playing and singing ... but not lately. The guitar just sits in its case, probably wondering if it would ever live again. I'm happy to say that at the suggestion of my old guitar teacher, I found a new arts center for youth in town, that was hoping to expand its instrumentals program. They were thrilled to accept my guitar.
Wedding gown: A wedding gown is a very special purchase, and more often than not, a one-day dress. It will never be worn again following the wedding. I've been married almost 30 years. The week after I returned home from my honeymoon, I took it to a dry cleaner and had it preserved in an air-tight box, where it's been sitting ever since.
I had two sons, so there was never the possibility of passing the dress along to a daughter. The idea of cutting it up and making it into christening gowns arose, but instead, their father and I dressed them in cute white cotton "boy's suits" for christening. So, here I am with a beautifully preserved wedding gown, and absolutely no plans for its future. I'm happy to report that I discovered an organization that accepts donations of formal wear (prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses and wedding gowns), makes them available to young women for special occasions, in exchange for so many hours of community service. They were pleased to receive my gown, along with several bridesmaid dresses. I'm thrilled at the thought that my beautiful gown may someday be in the spotlight again, worn by a bride.
At this writing, I have "two sleeps" left in our beautiful home where we raised our family. It was an absolutely perfect home for us. I'm excited that a new young family is moving in, and I'm excited about my new full-time life, living at the beach and writing novels. Yes, there's emotion; yes, there will be a few tears. But, tears of joy. I wouldn't change a thing.