We’ve all heard this: “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Nearly every summer, the Crankee Yankee and I have put out a “Free Table” at the end of our driveway. We put out things that we no longer use (or like) and lots of people stop by to pick up something or just look.
Now that we are going through a lot of stuff from my parents, the Free Table is doing well. Anyone who has had to clean out a relative’s home knows the “push and pull” feelings that go with it. Often our immediate reaction is ‘oh no; I can’t get rid of that; it belonged to <inert relative’s name here>!’
Well, here’s the thing: we don’t always love (or even like) our relatives’ stuff. Of course, it’s a twist to the guts when you pull out grandma’s handmade Christmas wreath and realize that you really don’t want it. But maybe someone else does.
My mother never met a vase she didn’t like. When we cleaned out the house, I found more vases than I could count. I don’t use them because we have cats; vases mean flowers and many of them are deadly to cats if they chew or eat them. So it’s just easier not to have flowers or vases.
Then there are the lamps; mostly brass (I’m not a fan of brass) and mostly tall. There’s no place in our little house for them, so they too will either go to friends or to the good old Free Table. We have brought loads of bedding and pillows to animal shelters, where they will comfort and warm the residents. All remaining clothing has been donated as well. All these things are relatively easy to part with.
However, there are things that are hard to part with. My mother and her cousin both got the genealogy bug back in the early ’80s and they researched all the information they could about our family. Mind you, this was before computers and the information highway. The two of them traveled together and interviewed our remaining relatives, collected photos and word-of-mouth stories, hunted through cemeteries for family plots and headstones. They spent hours and days researching archives in libraries; in short, they did together what a computer does today.
When they went as far as they could, Mom self-published all their work in one book; “Christian Feero, Loyalist of New Brunswick.” In it are scores of old photos, all manner of family history, and loads of stories. It was truly a labor of love. I now have all the materials, stories, photos and notes from their research in an album that weighs several pounds. So what to do with all this now?
I took the Crankee Yankee’s advice: “just put it upstairs for now. You don’t need to decide anything today.” There will come a time when I’ll know what to do with it. But today is not that day. In fact, I can just about hear my mother saying “oh for Heaven’s sake—just throw it out already! It’s all in the book anyhow.”
As usual, I’m sure she’s right.