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Marilyn Heltzer:

We all spend many years coveting and acquiring. Maybe you’re still in that phase.

It begins at about age 2 and goes on into your 70’s.

Then one morning, you look around your house and think, “I’d better get rid of some of this stuff.”

Nothing valuable, of course. Just things that your kids will have to sort through and dispose of and make decisions about some time in the future.

Getting rid of things is difficult. Mostly the decorative items because every item has a story.

As we age, the task becomes even more complex because we’re acquired precious things from our mothers and mother-in-laws houses. Oh, the dads lived there, too, but we of our generation think of the home as a woman’s place.

Some of us have been paper collectors: letters, journals, recipes, articles, items that should have gone to the paper shredder long ago.

But maybe somebody will want them. Sometime. They go back in the box, back on the shelf.

I have four sets of dishes.  First, there was the wedding china, selected so carefully over 50 years ago.

Then there’s the set acquired in my early married years, acquired from Red Owl.

When I bought $5 worth of groceries, I got a free plate, cup, saucer, sauce dish, or salad plate: the featured piece of the week.

Then there was the set acquired when we celebrated our 25th anniversary and I figured it was time for new dishes. And of course there’s the set purchased on sale at Target about 15 years ago. They are used daily, along with various odds and ends.

What does anybody need with four sets of dishes?

Some folks wisely divest as they go along, selling off stuff at garage sales. I should have done that. During my coveting and acquiring years, I couldn’t pass up a garage sale sign. And I couldn’t stop without finding something to buy. More stuff.

It’s still a temptation these summer days as I drive around town, or even see a sign that will take me four miles in a direction I wasn’t plan on going. I talk myself out of it by thinking of the crowded bookshelves and full drawers and cupboards and oh, the pictures on the wall and tapes and electronic devices, now obsolete, and the decorations in the basement that come out for each holiday, and all that stuff that yes, I need to get rid of.

Will my daughters thank me? I hope so. Just yesterday, my sister who has come “up to the lake” and Ic chatted over coffee, and marveled at how our mom had cleaned out the attic and drawers in her house, probably that last winter, and left us with the furniture to get rid of.

But on to the tasks at hand. I’ve gotta go to town, stop at the PO, and be grateful that it’s not a week-end when all those Yard Sale and Garage Sale signs are up. It’s a small blessing, but a significant one.

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