Stay Connected

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Inherited clutter or treasured heirlooms?

For petite little things, my daughters are amazingly strong. I'd been trying to move this one sofa all week. I'd move it about 4 inches, hurt my back and call it quits on that for the day. I did this every day this week, and barely got that behemoth moved. This is my parents old sofa, and I think they stuffed it with their early 18th century anvil collection. The fact that it's so heavy must be a good thing. It must mean that sofa is built to last through this century and then well into the next. But man, is it heavy to try and move.

So why move it? My thoughts exactly, halfway through the week. Oh yeah, it was sitting right in front of the heat register in the living room, blocking the flow of warm air. So I wanted to rearrange the furniture and try and open up some space in there, and allow heat to actually reach human beings who may just choose to sit in there this winter.

In come my two teenage, near champion, weight-lifting daughters (or at least they could be, or maybe I'm just getting weak and frail in my advancing years). They muscled that thing around like it was made of cardboard. And not only did they move the sofa for me, they helped me move a piano. Now that's impressive, don't you think?

So we got the sofa off the heat register, moved the piano to the other side of the room, and discovered that we have too much stuff! 

Most everything in that room has been wished upon us. What do you do with furniture and knick knacks, that one, are too big for the space, and two, really aren't your style? It's difficult, as these things belonged to my parents, who passed away many years ago. 

Some items are small, and I couldn't part with them, but don't know how to store or display them. My mom collected little angel figurines. I have a share of her collection. But I don't think squeezing them onto an already crowded fireplace mantel does them justice. 

Some items are large, like the 4  1/2 foot square Parson-style coffee table. If that thing were dinner table height I could fit 8 people around it! Again, something of my parents. I'm not as sentimentally attached to this coffee table, however. 

I'm reluctant to just give most of these belongings away to strangers, because these are my ties to long-gone loved ones. I guess I'm waiting for some of my kids to have places of their own, and then I can wish some of this stuff on them . . . er . . . I mean, I can help them furnish their new places.

Friends, what do you do with items that have been wished upon you?


  1. I save a few things that are given to me from family, but mostly I find them another home. I have to remember that the object is not the person and it is only worth keeping if it brings a smile to me every time I see it. Some people take pictures of the inherited things and use that as a reminder of the person that it came from.

    I will admit that I have been guilty of saving a few things for when my kids have their own place. But I don't do much of that. That's what FreeCycle and Craigslist are for.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      this is definitely an area I need to work on! It's been a slow process. There's only so much nostalgia I can hold on to, then it becomes a nuisance to have to take care of.

  2. I agree with live and learn. Keep a few things but find new homes for the rest. I'm still struggling with the new home part though. Because hubby and I were so broke going through university, we saved everything for our children to use when they were in the same position. But, they never were ... and they've all since moved into their own places and much of the saved items are still huddled together, taking up space on our empty nester home. Our goal is to just give most of it away.

    1. Hi Jayne,
      I totally identify with your reasons for saving some things for your kids places. My husband and I had nothing to start our lives with. And I'm wanting to make sure my own kids don't go through the same lack we did. But I just know what will happen is, they'll have their own taste, and not be at all afraid to tell me, "Mom, that table is hideous!" And I'll still be stuck with it!

  3. When we lived closer to family, especially my in-laws, we were often recipients of items from them. But I realized when having a garage or yard sale, most of the items in the sale were not items that I had chosen poorly, rather, most were things that had been "gifted" to me. Because my in-laws were also "hoarders" in the true sense of the word (truly!!), my husband and I agreed to take anything they offered us, usable or not, to reduce some of the clutter at their place. Granted, these were usually not items of fond memories, but just junk. We accepted it all, and either went in the trash or yard sale. I have heard that if you have an item from a passed loved-one, it is important to honor them through how you display it, otherwise piling it up in a corner dishonors their memory. I kind of get this - but it makes it necessary to limit what you keep as "memory" items. Our homes are only so big, but our hearts are bigger. This is a challenge for me too.

    1. Hi Valarie,
      Oh now, that would present something of a dilemma. You were trying to help them rid their home of all the hoarded stuff, yet taking it in meant you had to find a way to unload it.

      I like that thought about how you display something treasured. That makes me think I need to get rid of some of the "clutter" on the mantel and have just the pieces that I want to see, or find another appropriate location for my mother's angel collection. Thanks.

    2. I too will take anything from certain relatives because they would not be able to get rid of it on their own. We sometimes use what they haven give us, but most of the time we find it another home.

  4. I'm thinking I need to start going through my parent's house and getting rid of non-nostalgic items NOW before they find their way to my basement!

    1. Hi Kris,
      You know, I've been after my husband to start going through our attic space above the garage. I don't want my kids to some day have to go through all that junk (and this is truly junk, really, it would be embarrassing to reveal just some of the items up there).
      It's amazing how much stuff a person can accumulate in a lifetime. Much of this stuff is useless. (Mushroom-shaped candle anyone?) Only a small percentage are belongings that one really needs to get through life.

  5. That is a tough question, Lili. Some things have too many memories to just give away. Since my Mom's been sick, I've been cleaning out her bedroom for her. She is a pack rat to say the least. She saves everything, even junk mail. But I have found a few treasures in there as well. I don't know the answer for your dilemma though. But I wish you the best of luck in dealing with it. :)

    1. HI Belinda,
      I know, some things are just too filled with memories to part with. Especially for me when my parents first passed away. As years have passed, I've been able to let go of more and more.

      That will be a huge help for your mom, though, when she comes home from the hospital, to have a fresh and clean room to recover in. And I imagine for you, it's been a walk down memory lane.

  6. I ran into the same problem when I began to clear out my last apartment. My grandmother especially left me so many things. She would tell me for years before passing away that she wanted me to have XYZ. I didn't have the heart to tell her they weren't me. So after she died, I reluctantly took the items. One day I realized that 1) she didn't fill her home with cast offs from other family, she only kept the things she wanted to be surrounded with and 2) she would understand how I feel if she were here today, and I guess 3) I doubt she cares any more about material things.

    First thing I did was ask my boys if they wanted any of the items. Then I asked my siblings. What was left I told friends about and then donated.

    I've never regretted the decision to let go of those inherited things, I just wish I had done it sooner.

    Good luck working through your process.

    1. Hi Lois,
      I can really appreciate your thoughts on this. Your grandmother loved you so dearly that she wanted you to have some of her belongings. And you loved your grandmother so dearly that you just couldn't tell her "no thanks". And you're right, she would not want you to keep things that didn't fit your life. All she ever wanted for you was your happiness. And you found that in lightening up on the things you carry through this life.

      I feel that I learn so much through the experiences of others.

  7. Luckily my grandparents were not at all sentimental and they didn't attach much significance to belongings. My parents recently cleaned out their basement so us kids would not have to deal with it later. So kind!

    1. Hi anexacting,
      that is so very thoughtful of your parents! That makes me even more motivated to get our attic cleaned out. I wouldn't want my kids to have to deal with that junk.


Thank you for joining the discussion today. Here at creative savv, we strive to maintain a respectful community centered around frugal living. Creative savv would like to continue to be a welcoming and safe place for discussion, and as such reserves the right to remove comments that are inappropriate for the conversation.


Be a voice that helps someone else on their frugal living journey

Are you interested in writing for creative savv?
What's your frugal story?

Do you have a favorite frugal recipe, special insight, DIY project, or tips that could make frugal living more do-able for someone else?

Creative savv is seeking new voices.


share this post