Downsizing, in the spirit of giving


As many of you know, She Who Generally Knows Best and I “downsized” some months ago – maybe 10 months – in anticipation of either a retirement or a slowdown.

And, as many of you know and the rest will likely learn sooner or later, downsizing means you box up a lot of stuff that somehow or other had fallen off the official inventory list. For example, somebody once gave me a five-inch-tall porcelain figurine… it’s a cap-wearing bear, upright and with a knapsack on its back, climbing a tiny-but-imposing mountain. On the backside of the diminutive mountain is one of those You-Can-Do-It inspirational messages. No mountain too high, etc, etc...

In the process of unboxing we found not one but two of those little mountain climbing bears. At the risk of offending the person who gifted it, we probably don’t need one; we surely don’t need two. There’s a lot of that. Duplicate copies of many, many books. Christmas decorations suitable – in quantity and dimension if not in quality – for a much larger home.

And there’s the stuff… lots of stuff… ‘heir-ed’ from Mom and Dad. Plaques they accepted from a variety of organizations over the course of their professional careers. Dad’s favorite boots, those trinket-ish-things with which mom filled every available bit of shelf space. Dad’s collection of pipes and his ancient humidor.

Last weekend, with nothing more pressing on the immediate horizon, I sat contemplating the efficient disposal of those two identical mountain-climbing, inspirational bears. Me at the breakfast table, the bears perched (encouragingly) side-by-side atop the refrigerator.

“We could,” suggested SWGKB, “give them to the kids for Christmas. Pass along a keepsake that clearly has meant so much to you, The Father. They could each have one.”

It hit me: Christmas for the son and the daughter is taken care of from now until approximately forever.

Christmas shopping for 40-something-year-old offspring is always hard. Both can afford anything they need and I’ve never been a truly inspired shopper. I need never shop again.

One of Mom’s tea pitchers – lovely though they all are – might be perfect for the daughter. “It was your grandmother’s,” I’ll say. That desk nameplate from when Dad was mayor? Perfect for the son. “It sat on the dais while your grandfather served his community. Let it be an inspiration to you.” Those more-or-less chromed imitation milk bottles (three sizes) would be a great gift for a daughter-in-law who would surely love something of Nanna’s for her kitchen. The hand-tooled belt would be just right for the son-in-law.

We can put all those un-necessaries back in cartons and store them on a pallet in the garage. Each holiday season we’ll do the grab-bag thing – close our eyes, reach in and withdraw an item, choose a recipient, wrap it and ship it. Just think how they’ll look forward to Christmas.

And birthdays. They’ll be forever grateful for birthday gifts, too, I’m sure.


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