We are downsizing. Such a neat turn of phrase! The reality is somewhat different. It means I cannot possibly squash all of my belongings into a smaller space and I have to be ruthless. I start packing cheerfully enough. It’s relatively easy to weed out unworn clothes which no longer fit, once I have accepted I will never be a size 10 again. Surplus bedding isn’t a problem either, though I do keep the single sets for when the grandchildren visit (they haven’t arrived yet).
It becomes trickier when I start on what might be referred to as the “non-essentials”. There is a Japanese lady I heard speaking on Women’s Hour who recommends only keeping that which is really needed, or brings you joy, I daren’t even count the number of books I own. Do I need them all when you can look up anything on the internet today? Am I going to read the novels again in my old age, with failing eyesight? Probably not. But can I get rid of any? Emphatically not!
I’m not too bad on CDs but only because I have kept several LPs from my vanished youth. Then there are what I euphemistically call “my ornaments”. I’m not really an ornament person. But I seem to have been given or inherited quite a few. The trouble is they all have sentimental value. Unthinkable to ditch the huge and truly fearsome face mask my son carted all the way back from Fiji, under his arm, at the end of his gap year. Nor can I throw out the china figures of animals and people that belonged to my deceased mother. My mother in law was keener on coloured glass and my husband wants to keep that. And I had a great auntie who hand painted plates rather well, including a pretty little green, cream and gold coffee set with tiny cups, which we never use.
We also have prints which remind me of places once lived in or visited. No matter that they aren’t that good or won’t go with the décor. At this rate, I am never going to have a minimalistic and stylish house with a single white orchid in a black vase on a white table.
Then the photographs really trip me up. Those in frames are heavy on graduation and wedding days and will obviously stay. But I am strong on albums too. Yes, I know you can keep everything online now. But it’s not the same, somehow. It gets worse. My father took loads of slides which need to be viewed on a screen and my father –in-law thought he was very modern in taking cine-films. Social and family history! These have been in the garage for at least ten years, waiting for us to get round to digitalising them.
Speaking of the garage, I notice there are still several boxes storing stuff belonging to the “children”. They are in their mid -thirties now with (admittedly small) homes of their own. Time for an ultimatum! But could I really put them on the tip? After all, my son assures me old copies of “The Beano” are quite valuable now.
I have to admit to the Japanese lady I am not doing awfully well. I am suddenly consumed with guilt. If I don’t sort it, someone else will have to, on my inevitable demise, and I know what that’s like. Overwhelmed by it all, I decide to go and have a lie-down or practise Mindfulness, Japanese style. If that doesn’t work, I can always read a book for distraction. After all, I do have sixteen boxfuls!