Stuff we can’t live without

Oldies but Goodies

By Sharon Perea

Our senior age group seems to acquire a common disease – it sneaks up without our noticing it. Sometimes a family member, usually a spouse or child, will comment on its existence. Or it pops up visually in the form of shrunken living space.

Symptoms can include drawers so full they won’t shut. Or one car will no longer fit into the 2-car garage.
The living room has stacks of unread magazines next to the sofa. Closets are crammed with clothes or items no longer worn or used. Stuff has replaced our valuable living areas. One senior describes clutter as accumulating stuff that you don’t want to get rid of, but you don’t know what to do with.

During a recent senior luncheon, numerous comments evolved from this subject of clutter. Women seemed to think their husbands collect more caps than can be worn in a lifetime. Men were also accused of collecting broken items that they will someday repair. The men mentioned that the women keep out of date or worn out shoes and purses, plus stacks of recipe books no longer used due to a change in diet or cooking habits. One senior admitted that she has a set of dishes bought at Sears over 45 years ago that she has never used.  Another senior says he still has his high school letter sweater. Both sexes agreed that their closets are full of clothes, belts, coats, shoes, and hats that haven’t fit in years, but they’re always hoping they’ll fit next year. Even unusable items are hard to part with now.

Seniors also like to save all types of containers. We are a generation of “it’s too good to throw away,” and “it might come in handy later.” Containers can be recyclable plastic from a restaurant meal, plastic grocery bags, or even cardboard boxes. They do take up space and sometimes we use the larger containers to store the smaller containers. They remain with us for months or years without any known purpose. A box is kept all year just in case a Christmas present not yet purchased might fit into it.

Containers are useful at times, as they hold that stuff we don’t know what to do with! Now the container full of stuff needs to be stored somewhere, so the garage, basement, or closet becomes crowded with containers full of unidentified and forgotten stuff.

Is there a solution to not accumulating even more stuff? One senior suggests not stopping at yard sales. Another idea is when you buy something, then you must get rid of the older similar item you’re replacing. You can always hint to relatives that you’d prefer cash to one more sweater or dust collector.

How do we bravely begin to dispose of all the good stuff we’ve accumulated during the past 50 years? We’ll tackle that subject next time…that is if I can find my notes somewhere under all the stuff stacked on my desk!

Point to ponder: I know I can’t take it with me, but I’d like for it to last until I go.

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