What I learned from estate sales
I've learned some helpful things about de-cluttering and purging from estate sales.
(I know--I shouldn't even be there!)
One thing--it's not just the amount of stuff--though, a visit to an estate sale can stimulate a general, omigosh, my ___ looks like this and I want to clear it out RIGHT NOW). Because reasons for having a sale (death or whatever) might have occurred for folks who had been living full lives with lots of hobbies, visiting grandchildren, fashion sense, and everything--not all are nursing home-bound. All that can take a lot of stuff. Plus, if you empty every cabinet, drawer, closet, etc to diplay, there will be a lot of stuff in an active household. So Stuff per se is not the problem.
What gets your attention more is the unused or unloved-appearing stuff. Stuff that you're pretty sure was never much wanted or used. Stuff still in box. Stuff that can't be used at all in its current condition. Stuff where you can tell they've moved on to another style, color or whatever, but saved the old stuff. Pretty sure a lot was given as gifts--the ever-present need to give something that has no use or value. PLUS the way too much stuff.
"Old" is not necessarily a good way to judge, since everything looks "old" to young people, and also, cool vintage stuff is in. Things that right now I really like from some decades ago, my daughters would just pick up and go "huh?"--so I don't expect them to like or value my "stuff".
So this has helped me develop more of a method to my de-cluttering.
I went through linens and eliminated 12 tablecloths--colors, patterns, fabric no longer "right." I had kind of changed color schemes some time back. Now was able to "see" that these were no longer useful.
Christmas decorations--out with those not well-loved and used.
That's a subject--I know some people have a real Christmas decorating thing going, but at most estate sales, entire rooms are full of Christmas decor & junk. This does not feel like "me" and our family, but I can see how easy it is to go there, so it has helped me narrow down to fewer things that are traditions in our family, and not collecting more stuff just because of store hype.
I was recently cleaning out a closet. We had 2 tennis rackets and 2 racketball rackets. Neither of us really play tennis at all. We used to play raquetball. Right now, I could no more enjoy that than fly--too speedy for me. My husband hasn't played in years, though he still could. "His" racket is a good aluminum one; mine was wood. Both tennis rackets wood, and one had a busted string. We have stored these for 6 years and not used for longer than that (maybe one day a random child would want to hit a tennis ball in the street...).
So it became easy. We kept his racket, for now. Mine went out. Tennis rackets out--easy.If I ever would decide to try to play either of those sports, I would want a new racket.
I may be too unsentimental. I really don't feel compelled to keep things JUST because someone gave it to me (except fear/guilt of discovery). I do develop sentimental attachments to some things, but am doing better about limiting that. So an estate sale visit can help to shake your senses up and say, for whom am I keeping this? For another person is not a really good reason for me to be cluttered or burdened, usually.
Still, I have maybe 15 tablecloths (I like them!). I use them for and with my family, different seasons, holidays, but they're "mine." They wouldn't really care. So I can't worry that if I dropped dead today, my family would go, look at all these tablecloths--what a hoarder! But I can try to keep just the ones I really love and use. And, every couple of years I can look to see that I'm not really using or having fun with some of those, I'll try to let them go. Plus, now that I cleared some of them out, I can see my assortment better and see that I don't need any more (for now!).