Follow the Decluttering:
What do you do when you get stuck storing things for others?
Is anyone storing not only their own extra stuff, but clutter that belongs to someone else? There are two types of scenarios I’ve seen where this happen. In both cases, it’s probably someone helping out a close friend or family member.
Scenario 1 is someone who needs temporary storage of some things for whatever reason. I’ve seen this happen because someone is trying to sell their house and they need to declutter but don’t want to get rid of some things permanently.
I’m actually guilty of this. Many years ago when we were selling our first house our friends were nice enough to store some extra stuff for a couple of months so that the small house we were selling would look a little less small. We were very grateful that we didn’t have to rent a storage unit and as soon as we closed on our new house, we picked everything up. In hindsight, I wish I would have just permanently decluttered instead of moving those things twice.
A few years ago, I offered to let a neighbor store some things in my yard as he was moving out. I knew they were struggling financially and they were renting the house. He rented a moving truck that was clearly not big enough. The next thing I new, I had several bicycles, a clothing rack, a treadmill, a picnic table, two battery powered jeeps, a huge floor jack, and a broken kids’ play structure filling up my yard! Surely, he was just going to unload the truck and come back the next day and get it all.
After repeated attempts to get my former neighbor to come get this stuff, it was nearly a year later before he finally showed up and retrieved a small portion of it. He had his usual story of all the problems in his life, apologized profusely for leaving his things in my yard and assured me he would get a truck and come back the next day. He didn’t of course and it took me several more months before I started throwing it away, giving it away, and selling it (we donated the money to charity). I was angry that I had been taken advantage of.
Scenario 2 is usually a case where someone inherits or is given a bunch of things that belonged to another family member. I know people who have had to clean out their parents or grandparents houses and wound up with a garage full of stuff that they didn’t really want but also didn’t really want to just throw it out. The best place to start in this case is with extended family and friends to see if anyone wants any of it. If someone says they want something, give them an appropriate deadline based on how far away they live and how much the extra clutter is inconveniencing you.
What do you do though if you are still stuck with a bunch of family heirlooms that no one really wants and you are having a hard time parting with? You don’t want to get rid of it only to find out later that 2nd cousin so-and-so wanted grandpa’s old golf clubs. You don’t want to be accused by the rest of the family of hoarding the best stuff for yourself or giving something to someone when it turns out someone else actually wanted it.
My suggestion is to set up a private “garage sale” type Facebook group specifically for extended family and take a bunch of pictures. You don’t have to be a professional photographer because you’re just giving the stuff to your relatives. Put each item or groups of items on it and make the rule first-come-first-serve. No one can argue because Facebook will have a time-stamp for every comment. Again, give everyone a deadline to pick up what they want and if they don’t pick it up by the deadline, it goes to the next person on the list who wanted it.
If you think there may be some family friends that would want something, you can invite them to the group. Keep the group open for as long as you feel like but give everyone some notice before closing it for good. Then donate what’s left.
The lessons here are, first, don’t inconvenience someone else with your clutter. It’s still clutter even if it’s somewhere else. If you do need to store something at someone else’s place, make sure you don’t take advantage of them. If you ask someone to store your things, have an agreement in place for how long and what happens if you don’t go get it. Second, if you’re the one stuck storing someone else’s things, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself like I was. Most of us have enough of our own junk sitting around without dealing with someone else’s.
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!
I’ll keep this a short read so that you can go back to finishing your eggnog and candy canes.
Recently, I was at work when a friend started up a text message conversation about how he felt like he needed to purge some of the extra stuff in his house again. This friend is my hero when it comes to getting rid of things. I’ve seen him give away and throw away things that you wouldn’t believe. I’m always impressed when I go to their house and their huge kitchen counter is empty, while mine always seems to be covered with things the kids bring home from school and the last couple days worth of mail. I encouraged him and agreed that I need to do the same thing.
When I got home from work that day, I went on Facebook for a few minutes and saw his post. He had pictures of two electric guitars and said he didn’t need to own four. He was giving these two away to the first two people who said they wanted them. Needless to say, they went quickly to new homes.
I talked to him later about it and he told me how it felt great to give them away rather than sell them. He made a couple of people very happy and that always feels good. In this case, he helped spread his love of music at the same time making it even better.
I tell this story to remind us all that Christmas time is about giving but we should try to do that all the time. When you want to get rid of things, it’s often better to just donate them or give them to someone rather than to try making some money. You may just find that the act of giving will bring far more satisfaction than a few extra dollars in your pocket. Not to mention the time and hassle you’ll save yourself.
Thanks for reading and I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year.
Are you saving something (clothes, a bottle of wine, some fancy dishes, etc.) for a special occasion? Has that occasion ever come? How many special occasions have you had? What really is a special occasion? I think most of us do not even know what a real special occasion is, or at least we don’t realize it until it’s already happened.
Oxford dictionary defines a special occasion as “A particularly noteworthy event, ceremony, social gathering, or celebration“. That covers a lot. This year is the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th. That sounds like a special occasion to me being a particularly noteworthy event. I don’t think special occasions are necessarily always happy occasions. Last month, I visited my dad and for at least a few hours, I was in the same house with my dad and my six sisters. It was quite a social gathering and celebration. Definitely a special occasion.
Depending on your religion, there are some dates most people would consider a special occasion like Easter and Christmas. Similarly, depending on where you live days such as the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving would be considered special occasions. Those are obvious ones that many people would come up with if you asked them what their idea of a special occasion was.
Maybe we can come up with some more obscure ones though. What about the day you finish paying off your student loans? They day you pay off that first car or sign the papers to buy your first house? How about the last time you and your spouse sat down for dinner with all of your kids at once? We recently sat all three kids down and watched the movie A Christmas Story with them. They loved it and it was undoubtedly a special occasion.
Here’s my definition of a special occasion: Any time we are alive and experiencing something that we can appreciate, celebrate, or commemorate. If that experience happens with someone you love, then it’s even more special but we should be able to find something special about every day of our lives. Then we should celebrate that by enjoying every day somehow because the next one is never a guarantee.
So, eat off the China and break out the crystal wine glasses because won’t it be a shame if you just stare at those things every day waiting for just the right special occasion to use them and it never comes? It’s only stuff, right?
I have a very special pilsner glass that was given to me when I became godfather for our friends’ daughter. I love it. It has my name and proudly proclaims that I am her godfather. I would probably be heartbroken if it broke, but at the same time it’s just a glass and I refuse to think that it’s just for displaying on the shelf, never to be enjoyed. I use it all the time.
If I die with a bottle of unopened expensive Scotch in my basement, I will consider myself a failure at enjoying life. I want to try it all and learn to appreciate every minute of it. Don’t keep your favorite shirt in the closet because you don’t want to get it dirty. Don’t leave that bottle of Pappy Van Winkle sitting around because you’re waiting for that perfect time to enjoy it.
Those days may never come and it doesn’t matter if they do. Any day that we wake up on the right side of the ground with our mind and body intact can be the best day ever. We just have to learn to appreciate those little occasions and make them special.
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Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2018
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