That can range from a roomy apartment in a seniors’ building, whether a city high rise or on a single floor as are being built in Amherst, to a shared room in a care facility. Gone are the attics and basements and spare rooms and closets for storage: it all must go.
The best place to start is to identify what will fit into the anticipated space and what is really needed. We need basic furnishings, essential clothing for all seasons, a change of bedding, kitchen items if our situation permits, but which of our additional possessions can accompany us? What can we choose that will make our allotted space feel like it’s ours, with items of beauty and sentiment that fit the walls and surfaces?
I’ve read none of the how-to guides but I was impressed to read about Marie Kondo, the Japanese writer who advocates only keeping items which "spark joy". That, of course, is only the first step because there may well be many joyful sparks and they can’t all fit.
How to distribute our many items, often accumulated with love and careful selection, over a long lifetime? What about all those family heirlooms? Those beautiful gifts we’ve received, some from dear ones now deceased? Travel mementos? Most have to be let go - but you may want to take pictures as reminders.
Which is your priority: to find your items a home or to make money?
If the former, start with your nearest and dearest, especially family, perhaps proceeding by generation, older, then younger. If they can visit to choose, that’s lovely - but time-consuming.
Email pictures so potential recipients are thinking about individual items, not your intact home. If more than one speaks for something, draw straws.
My older brothers simply brought me boxes of items from our childhood home and asked me to deal with them.
Using Kondo’s category-by-category system (rather than room by room), start with antiques and collectibles. Call the Cumberland County Museum, donate to church silent auctions.
Select your next category: clothes? The IODE Thrift Shop, The Bridge Workshop, the Salvation Army are worthy causes.
Books: start with the Library, realizing that your books will probably be sold in their frequent and popular sales to raise funds for their various community programs. The places mentioned above also sell books. Contribute small quantities to the various pop-up libraries in the area.
CFTA is advertising for music: 45s, LPs, CDs. Ron Bickle tells me that they may keep some to play and the rest they will sell in a fund-raising sale. I know two teenage girls who would buy LPs from the ‘60s if they lived here.
Pack boxes for the annual sales at various of our churches. There are also PEDVAC in Port Elgin, the Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop in Pugwash, the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Sackville, a few that come to mind.
If you need to raise money, do you have exceptional antiques that would interest auctioneers in Saint John, Fredericton or Halifax? For the rest, consider taking pictures and advertising on eBay or Kijiji, either on your own or through someone who would help you for a commission. Call our antique dealers at Dayles, or Fundy Bay Antiques & Collectibles in Parrsboro to name only a couple. Fundy Bay will pay you for what they expect to sell and remove the rest which they will donate to their local church sales.
Hold a yard sale: best if it can be in your garage. Advertise on CFTA, in the local newspapers and with neighbourhood signs.
Leave paper to the last (unless, like me, it’s family heirloom quality).
Read They Left Us Everything by Plum Johnson to see how it feels if you don’t do it yourself and dump it on the next generation. If there is no next generation, your executor or administrator may not be so careful to find homes for things and your treasures may end up in the landfill, unappreciated and lost forever. Heaven forbid!
Good luck, be patient, and enjoy the pleasure others will receive from your treasures and possessions.
To buy my publications, go to the Artisans’ Gallery, Amherst Centre Mall; Maritime Mosaic, Dayle’s, Victoria Street, Amherst; Flying Colours, Maccan; and Main and Station, Parrsboro.
Coles carries My dear Alice.
For my six self-published books and booklets, go to the Cumberland County Museum and Archives and to the YMCA Amherst.
Clare Christie is a member of the Amherst News Community Editorial Panel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.