Making Room for Inherited Stuff

MoccasinOctober 15, 2011

We were just discussing the Newer Home Paradigm, and got around to making room for what we inherit from our relatives, and I suppose that will include WHAT WE LEAVE TO OUR HEIRS.

It is all of a piece.

What have you done with the stuff left to you by your relatives? And what do you intend to do with your possessions when you depart this world?

Can you find out NOW, whether your children or nieces/nephews really WANT your old dining table? Is it a family heirloom?

Do you really NEED to wait until you die to pass it on?

And, with all your ephemera in the house, is it a kindness to leave your heirs burdened with the job of cleaning out your house?

I won't begin now with my story of spending a year after my mother's death cleaning out her house, trying to find the valuable stuff worth salvaging, and removing the detritus.

It was a traumatic year, believe me. It had to be done before we could sell her home, or give title to her licensed vehicles.

So think about it. While you are able, and considering the living circumstances of your heirs, WILL THEY WELCOME what you leave them to care for, one way or the other?

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It's not an easy thing to clear out your parents' house. Been there, done that. Two houses my parents owned and my grandma's place.

I think people should keep what they like around them. They shouldn't keep things just because they think their kids will want the stuff. Use it or lose it. If you have a "treasure" you no longer want offer it to the kids and if they don't want it then sell it.

When I had to clear out houses I thought dealing with the possessions of their live's was just part of life. Had my parents saved things "for the kids" I think it would have been more

I think it's tragic when people are guilted into taking things they don't want just because relatives think they should have it. In those circumstances I think those people should feel free to sell said items guilt free.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 9:35PM
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roses, you are so right. My mother is the queen of guilt gifting - which is why I have so many of my grandma's quilts. Mom wanted them when her nephew offered them, but then couldn't wait to shove them off on me. Now I don't have a clue what to do with them. I have a cousin who has a daughter and I thought I'd save a couple for her and a few for each of my girls. Right now, they are all young and heirloom = junk in their minds. When I hold one of grandma's quilts, I remember sleeping on her feather bed, and as a quilter myself, I am in awe of the work that went into them.

We have a few heirlooms to pass down and I plan on putting a sticker on the bottom of them, explaining who it originally belonged to, so if it is still here when we're gone, the kids will know it's not just something I picked up at a garage sale. And yes, when they are both settled, I plan on asking them what, if anything, they would like to have.

I dread cleaning out mom's house after she is gone. She is a collector to the point that it is just clutter.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 12:21PM
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My inherited things are pretty well appreciated here. I have some of my Aunt Teresa's ceramics in my little curio cabinet. I use a big seashell dish in the half bath, which the previous owner wallpapered in a "below the ocean" theme. They even had a fishing net hung on the ceiling. A vase that she made for my first wedding is now broken, but if you place it high enough, you can place it on an angle where you don't see the break.

I recently bought a Czechoslovakian ceramic single-serving milk pitcher that looks like a parrot. It is identical to one we had in the cupboard when I was growing up. My father received it as an infant as a gift. Has any one else BOUGHT something identical to what they wish they had inherited? Another instance of doing that is when I went looking for a copy of the "family" cookbook. It was a pre-war Woman's Home Companion Cookbook, and there were two copies in our family. One had belonged to Mom, one to Grandma. I had Mom's and my sister had Grandma's. When my brother had been married for a few years, it occurred to me that my brother and sister-in-law did not have a copy. It contains our favorite cookie recipes and the recipes Mom used for canning Chilli Sauce for Dad. So I went to a used bookseller and asked how to find one. Since this was before the internet, it took him time, but he located a copy in Arizona, which I purchased. (I love to buy old cookbooks with the hand-written or typed recipe cards of former owners tucked between the pages.) Unfortunately, DS-in-L and DB did not appreciate the gift. I guess DB did not spend enough time in our kitchen as a child to recognize the "family" cookbook!

My larger hand-me-downs include the rocker now in our Library, an octogonal table (now in the basement) that sometimes resides in the foyer (from my fraternal grandfather), an orange carnival glass bowl from my mom that is in the kitchen, a McCoy pottery indoor plant pot that started my collection of McCoy pots, my grandmother's jar opener (the best one in the house, say all who use it), an old wooden hanger from my grandmother's house, an afghan my grandmother made me when I was young that I keep at work for when I freeze there, my mom's old Smith Corona manual typewriter in the basement, and an oak dressing screen from my grandma's basement that I have carried from home to home since the mid 1980s and never used. It is so short that it would show some of my "lady parts" if I used it to dress behind! Grandma used it to shield the furnace from the public eye in her semi-finished basement.

I have two nephews. Neither my sister nor I have had children. The boys are too young now to appreciate any family hand-me-downs, but maybe I will talk to them about these 'treasures' when they hit their thirties! I do have two half-brothers who may be interested in any things I have of Dad's. I will have to ask them about it.

Interesting topic, ML!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 1:39PM
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What I have is a locket with tintypes of my greatgrandmother & her husband, her hand held silver vanity mirror, her basket that she gathered fruit in, her Bible, & her wedding ring...a cameo that hasn't been off my finger since I was 20. Also a quilt. I also have my grandfather's small "smoking table" & tons of papers & documents & letters from my grandfather & great grandfather in the Pennsylvania RR, & also letters that date back to the Spanish-American War. And I have a portrait of my grandmother when she was 16 in the original frame. So what I have, though plentiful, is small not cumbersome. I would have LOVED to have had my great grandmothers Eastlake bedroom furniture!!! All the family furniture had been sold at auction, & that breaks my heart. My grandfather was a Civil War buff & had tons of valuable books from an elite Civil War Society that also went to auction. My parents lived modestly & had nothing of real value, so I have nothing from them. I also live modestly & I doubt that anyone will want what I have beyond what & have from the ancestors. I will leave what I have to my granddaughters & hope they appreciate the history of it.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 1:53PM
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LOL I was swiftly written out of the will for reasons I am not going into. Problem solved.Snicker.

WE have no kids to leave anything to . All my stuff is junk but a couple of things.If my nieces or nephews would come here with a truck I would send these things on home with them if they wanted them right now.Hahaha Would make more room for my junk.

I did get shed of some things from my grandmother on fathers side. I did not love them and I needed the space. I have not missed them at all. Very happy to have the space to put the things into I do love.

When I am gone it will be a big trip to the thrift store. Everything is sorted and purged.It should not be hard for some one to pick through whatever they might want whoever that might be.

There are no more areas of clutter other then the dog toy drawer in the secretary. They think it is a wonder when I open the drawer and let them choose a new toy once in awhile. The messier the more fun for them to nose through and it is exactly dog head high.One minute and a plastic grocery sack and that mess would be cleared away too. A person has to live in their houses.A home is not just all for show. LOL

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 4:21PM
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LOL!!! Our cat knows where the toy drawer is & tries to open it every night. Sometimes we'll let him crawl in & scratch out a toy. A joy to watch. My CH has a 15 yr old who could care less about anything, let alone what we have. LOL!!!

My most treasured collection is my rocks - I have rocks from all of our trips large & small. They are dated & named. They're all over the place. Hey - I'm a cheap date...just give me a rock for a present & I am happy!!! Sometimes I think I should've been a geologist, but would take all the mystery out of it!!!


    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 12:28AM
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Jeana, I get a real laugh about your rocks. When I used to travel for my job, I'd bring rocks home for my son. On a trip to Canada I picked up some rocks in the woods. Coming through customs, this big Canadian asked me if I was returning with anything that I had not taken up there with me. I said, "only rocks." He said, "Rocks? let's see them."

I had them in my little carry on bag, and showed them to him. He said, "Oh ROCKS. Those are okay." And I asked him, because I was puzzled, "What else could they be?" And he said, "Ohhh, you know, rubies, emeralds, gold....."

Wow, I'd been looking for the wrong kind of ROCKS....

Those rocks are still important to maintain contact with the memories of my departed son. Just rocks.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 9:59AM
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Yes, just rocks. Just rocks.

Precious rocks alright. ***sigh*** Very poignant story.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 1:36PM
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ML- My grandmother had a very bad experience, trying to clean, sort and find homes for, all of her mother's things. She swore she'd never do that to her kids, so all the kids and grandkids got things, when she downsized to a smaller home. It was fighting (Grandma was still here and wouldn't allow it, although everyone was very amiable about the whole thing) and she got a chance to see all of her 'treasures' go to homes, where they'd be loved. Anything that we didn't want, she gave to friends or to the local rummage sale.

She still kept a few of her favorite things, but she was very happy that she saved her kids from a difficult task...and knew exactly, where everything would go.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 6:32PM
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Lav, your grandmother was a smart lady, and very fortunate too. Being able to see that someone truly appreciates the things you give to them, and can hear them say, Thank You, it is worth a lot.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 9:01PM
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Nancy said "I recently bought a Czechoslovakian ceramic single-serving milk pitcher that looks like a parrot. It is identical to one we had in the cupboard when I was growing up. My father received it as an infant as a gift. Has any one else BOUGHT something identical to what they wish they had inherited? Another instance of doing that is when I went looking for a copy of the "family" cookbook."

Yes! It wasn't something I wish I had inherited, but something I had as a girl, a little elephant pitcher. Mine got broken when a bookshelf collapsed and when I saw one at a thrift store, I grabbed it, even though it is cracked.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 6:31PM
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I remember the little glass container which Mother bought during WWII which had loose powder in it, and the lid had a donkey on top. Years later, I saw one at a used items store, and the feelings just struck me to my heart. I could still smell that powder, and feel the soft powder puff. So I bought it. Pleasant memories of my mother are few and far between, so I appreciate this little item.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 2:56PM
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much of what I have I inherited from my MIL. She inherited a lot of it from her mother and MIL. I love my old inherited stuff! I'd start giving it to the kids but they're across country so that wouldn't work out. I do wish one of them would rent a uhaul and come get some stuff - I have so much.

yrs ago I gave away the Franciscan Apple dishes and some silver serving bowls to my xroommate. She'd married and had 2 young girls. She loved tending her home and family and serving nice dinners in her dining room. I wanted the girls growing up seeing this stuff on a regular basis so some day they could inherit it from her and it'd bring back memories to them.

My kids still aren't to the place in life where they'd treasure these things. At the rate they're going i'm not sure they ever will!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 3:09AM
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desertsteph, I wish I had my grandmother's Franciscan Apple dishes!!!

I also have my great-grandmother's chamber pot. It's a beautiful pocelain work of art from Germany. But when my son was little, he knocked it over & shattered it to pieces!!! Both of us were devastated. I spent DAYS gluing every little shard back into place. So it's still in one piece, & I will give it to my son one day. I think my son will appreciate these things much more than my daughter ever will, so I foresee my son getting most of these little treasures.

Just a couple of months ago, I was conditioning my grandfather's "smoking table" & thot about the guy who so tenderly restored it for me 30 yrs ago in Indy. He had such passion & love for old furniture & the memories they contain. So I penned him a little card of thanks & sent it off. A couple weeks later I received a reply from a friend of his that said he had just been in a near-fatal accident & couldn't write himself, but wanted me to know how much that note meant to him in such a tragic time, as he will be disabled for life. I find it interesting & rewarding to have people along the way in life who can affect your life though they aren't people you really know...but they touch you. I just thot that I should let him know how I appreciate how he touched not only my life in his life's work, but probably thousands of people. And then, as it turns out, that was a payment of thanks to a level I never imagined. See how he had done something seemingly in passing in my life, but it wasn't just in passing. I'm sure that's a gift you gave, desertsteph, that you did in passing, but will visit you again in the future with your ex-roomate's kids. Wonderful.


    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 1:04PM
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interior - that's a lovely thing you did sending that note! I also think about how we are a sum of all of those who have touched our lives thru out the yrs. What a great thing for that guy to have received at this devastating time in his life! A number of yrs back I sent a note to an old friend (and former bf - my first serious one). He was one that I wanted to know that tho things didn't work out for us he was a wonderful and important part of the 'making' of me. I had no idea tho that he was married (I knew he'd divorced) and it turned out he remarried to a girl from our old neighborhood who was tremendously jealous of me - and I think he took it that I wanted some type of future communication. Which i didn't expect, nor did I mean to cause any problems in his current life. I had heard (thru my sister) that he'd had a bout with cancer a few yrs previous which made me think about how we'd aged and that none of us had a guarantee of time here on earth and should let those who had meaning in our lives know that while they are still alive. I am glad I let him know what a very special person he has been in my life.

the Apple dishes - my roommate was a young girl - about my dd's age! Her kitchen/dining room had apple decor. I had an enormous set of those dishes and used them for about 30 yrs! I was so tired of them. My kids were gone by then so i bought myself a corelle set for 4 that i love. I still have my MIL's good china and a set of dessert dishes. I thought those dishes should go to someone who would love and use them. It gave her plenty for when she had company to dinner - or the girls broke one or 2 - or 3 - lol! The silver serving pieces would be well used by her and i still have lots of them to leave to my kids. She is like a dd to me anyway. Her and her girls are on my list of those who will inherit. I'm already planning to send some of my jewelry their way since i no longer wear much of it.

my youngest son has interest in our family history - he'll get those things. I already sent him my wedding band and his ggranddaddy's pocket watch. He said those were the best gifts he'd ever received.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 2:24PM
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Thinking about all that's been said on here, I started pulling out donations for the NE Epilepsy pick up. They come by this Thursday, and I'll have lots ready for them. Hope it does not rain. All kinds of glasses and Corelle plates and bowls, extra silverware, candle holders, a student desk, a couple of lamps, clothing, bed linens, some towels that are not worn out,. There'd be more, except DH has used sheets or blankets, so much for drop cloths in his construction projects.

And I've been emptying about 5 drawers of gadgets in the kitchen, mixed in with HIS JUNK, which is now homeless. He filled up the garage, then the garden shed, and now the kitchen drawers? I think not. Meanwhile, he moves all the vacuum cleaner bags which I need, I think it is a matter of CONTROL....who is in CONTROL..... ridiculous....I do get grouchy when my blood sugar is out of whack.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 4:07PM
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ML - lol! I only have me to blame when things get cluttered or misplaced (both are much and often!) I just get grouchy at myself.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 7:18PM
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Jeana, that was a nice thing to do. I always think I am going to send out more thank you cards, but then I get busy and put it off. I'm so glad you didn't; you probably made their day.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 11:05AM
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Now that my computer is home, I'm not getting things done around the house as quickly as when it was gone.

But the dining table top and beneath is covered in goods to be packed. Hehehehe, I have my paper shredder cannister full of paper to pack glassware, one way to use it up, since DH will not allow me to compost it in his garden. PERFECT like old style excelsior! Good use for junk mail and private papers.

Jeana, kudos for your follow through. I've often regretted not following through when I felt the impulse to say Thank You, but never have I regretted doing it. I'm a little tuned to vibes I get from people, and when they pop into my head, I know there must be a reason for it. It requires that I make contact with them. When it happens to you, do not ignore the impulse. Take action. Just do it.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 12:19PM
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I have a few pieces from my parents that my husband and I wanted. Since we're moving, I know exactly where these things will go, and nothing will have to be rearranged.

I do understand about the guilt thing. It seems that every time I say I don't plan on taking something from my parents (say, for example, the Christmas Ornaments) I get this "Oh, Cindy, you HAVE to at least take a few! You mother would be so disappointed if you didn't!"

It's emotional blackmail, pure and simple. And I don't know why people do it.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 1:03AM
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Oooh, that is emotional blackmail. My mother uses the line "This was made by (or was a wedding gift of) XXX and I've been saving it for you all these years."

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 2:44PM
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