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Sorry, Parents: No One Wants the Family "Heirlooms" - Apartment Therapy

Sorry, Parents: No One Wants the Family "Heirlooms" - Apartment Therapy
From The Kitchn - August 22, 2017

In a modern world currently intrigued by minimalism, there's something that all three adult generations can agree on: the problem of dealing with the collections curated (hoarded?) by our family members. From younger boomers and Gen X'ers sandwiched between their aging/dying parents and their own children to millennials trying to gently manage expectations (and their own limited budgets and storage space) without hurt feelings, the message is crystal clear. As Forbes said recently, "Sorry, nobody wants your stuff."

When my mother sold our childhood homea 2,600 square foot townhouse with a garage and basement, where my parents raised my two siblings and I in a suburb of Bostonthe downsizing and packing process was nothing short of traumatizing. Probably at least half of our total square footage was allotted as storage. And we had become a family of pack rats who collected "family valuables."

Like many of their generation, my mom and dad have always found it hard to throw anything away. Not just throw anything away, but give it away to charity or sell it to someone else who might truly treasure it; to them, everything has value, everything "might be needed again later", everything might be something "you kids will want someday." And when you are part of a large, multi-generational Italian-American family with roots in the same city for hundreds of years, you start to collect not just your own things but all of the things from all of the relatives who have passed over the years. Because, you know, "antiques."

This becomes an actual problem when you are trying to whittle down the collection to the things that have value (sentimental or actual).During my mother's move, for every box we packed up to donate, sell, or recycle, two boxes were unpacked to make sure there was not anything that "must be kept." By the time the movers showed up, we had not even touched the basement or the garage.

If this sounds familiar, then welcome to the club of grown children who do not want their parents' (or grandparents', or great-aunts-and-uncles') stuffand the older folks for whom this realization is "downright painful," according to a report this summer by the Christian Science Monitor.

In the piece, the Monitor echoes:

As baby boomers begin to downsize, they are discovering their grown children do not want their stuff. In fact, they recoil in something close to horror at the thought of trying to find room for collections of Hummels and Thomas Kinkade paintings.

And it's true, in my family as well as those featured by the Monitor: While my mom is a natural-born interior designer with a talented eye for textiles and a knack for collecting beautiful pieces from her world travels, and my father's appreciation for literature, art, history, and the classics has shaped both my and my siblings' intellectual curiosity, we want to start and curate our own collectionswe want to be surrounded by pieces that are curated to reflect our travels, our memories, our ways of entertaining, and our personal styles.

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