This past Saturday I went to Thousand Oaks to meet my sister and participate in our 2nd Annual Thrift Store Tour. We hit upon this idea last year about this time in looking for something, not to strenuous, to fill a day when we could visit and talk and eat and just spend the day together. She mapped out the thrift stores she could find in Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Moorpark and Westlake. I loaded the addresses into my Garmin and off we went. Last year was such a success that we decided to repeat the day this year. She had kept and updated the grid of stores with notations about hours, etc... We found some nice little places to eat (where the locals go) and some deals in our shopping.
I love this activity (really any shopping, buying or just window shopping or better yet going shopping with someone and helping them spend all their money!) But it always leaves me to wonder on the long drive home at the variety and items in all these thrift stores. You have to remember that most of the items in a thrift store were purchased new by someone at a previous time. Much falls under the category of "What were they thinking?" And I firmly believe that many of the items were bought as gifts for another person whose tastes and preferences were not known. Some of the items are so old that they are certainly from an estate where the last of the older generation died and possessions were cleared out. Maybe a yard sale was had, maybe not. Whatever the reason, the balance of the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, utility rooms and storage sheds were given away in hopes they would fill a need for another person. And probably, in many cases, the items do find new homes and serve another life purpose.
As we search through the goodies we come upon, I have to wonder about the amount of "things" we fill our lives with. What will happen to all my beloved "things" when I pass on?
Several years ago I was invited by my cousin to come up to the Bay Area and go through my Aunt's house after she passed. She was fairly well off and had some lovely items in her house. I was able to collect all her silk clothing for a quilt I plan to make some day. And I took some other items that struck my fancy at the time. A wooden pencil box with an attached green ribbon, a Japanese parasol, her old sewing machine (which I have since donated to a young person who needed a sewing machine). There was a household full of items, "things" to look at and decide if I wanted them. But after a time, it all became just "stuff." She was not my mother so I didn't hold a lot of sentiment for any of her things. but I spent the day looking and visiting with my cousins, which was a nice way to occupy a day.
During the summers I like to go to Estate Sales when I can find them in the neighborhoods. Estate sales are better than yard sales because at yard sales you only get the choice of what the seller want you to buy but at Estate sales, everything is up for grabs if you get there early enough. I found one in a small town next to us two summers ago. I had not gotten there as early as I had wanted to but I was early enough to get a look at what was left, which was still quite a bit. I happened into a back bedroom. At first glance I noticed it was filled with dolls. The previous owner of the house obviously had had a doll collection. Since I am not "into" dolls I almost passed that room up but I caught sight of a decorated lidded box sitting on a love seat. I had to see what it held. Inside were pictures. Wedding pictures, baby pictures, family pictures from generations of this family. You could tel by their looks they were all related. I stood there awhile, flipping through them and admiring the poses and dresses of the older photos. And as I went though the photos, I wondered why they were there. Where was the family in the pictures? Didn't they want these for themselves? Why were they for sale? How could a family sell its memories like this? I found it all to be very sad. I softly closed the box and left it sitting on the couch.
Did the doll collector think about what would happen to her things after she passed? I think she did, but either didn't have a say or was so sick it may not have mattered at that point.
With all this in mind, I began, 2 years ago to go through my "stuff" and have yard sales or give it to the Goodwill. Oh, don't get me wrong. I still have plenty of "stuff" that will have to be dealt with when I die, but I hope what is left at the end will be well received and not become a burden to my family. And, unlike that box of photos, my things will mean something to my family and be passed on.