Most young adults aren’t into the stuff Baby Boomers have collected.
What one generation treasures, the next one rejects. It’s true. The bone china and silver \ you registered for your wedding may be relegated to Goodwill.
When it comes to stuff, there are two kinds of people: keepers and shedders. I am of the former group mostly, though here lately I’ve been trying to weed clutter.
It started in January. There’s something about putting away holiday decorations that makes you realize that you might do all right without so much stuff lying around in drawers or filling the attic.
I watched “decluttering” videos on You Tube as I sorted through my accumulated stuff and was amazed at how many You Tubers have turned decluttering into a cottage industry.
Like most of you, I suspect, I harbor some off-the-mark things that relatives and friends who have gifted me over the years, but I blame myself for not ridding my life of so many material missteps: sale merchandise I don’t like, décor that is no longer me, clothes that don’t fit, stuff that belonged to earlier generations that, frankly, never rang my chimes.
One decluttering video featured a mother and daughter that struck me as hilarious. “If it’s ugly and you don’t like it, get rid of it,” the mother said.
It’s so profound and so true, but I laughed out loud. I get punchy after so many hours agonizing over what to keep and what to toss.
Decluttering isn’t as easy as it sounds. Let’s say you have a couple of cedar chests. You don’t need them; they’re taking up room in the house. You’d like to sell them, but cedar chests aren’t easy to unload these days. Gen Xers and Millennials aren’t into high maintenance, i.e. having to own an item of furniture just to maintain furs or woolens. Or maybe you don’t have the space or the furs or woolens or if you do, you store them off-season in a plastic storage bin with a snug lid and let it go at that.
Yes, I know plastic can do funky things over time and trap moisture and mildew, but let’s get real.
Then there’s the piano.
Do kids even take piano lessons anymore? If they do, they probably use an electronic keyboard. I know they sound sort of the same, but there is nothing like playing an actual piano—especially a baby grand, but who has the space—or the back to move—a piano, especially if you live in a, say, a third-story apartment with no elevator?
I still have the spinet that my mother used at her home wedding in 1945. Yes, it’s heavy and impossible to move. Yes, I tried to do that years ago and have a lower back condition to prove it. But no, I’m not trying to sell the piano because I know that’s a fool’s errand. Besides, it’s a family piece, so I’ll kick that can down the road.
Can we talk dinnerware for a minute? I’m trying to count up how many sets of china I have. I think it’s five or six, though I refused to take on my mother’s dishes. I never liked Desert Rose by Franciscan, nor did I care for Poppycock by California Provincial that belonged to my grandmother. Those patterns aren’t me, and thank heavens I had the sense to say no when the time came to divide everything.
I had plenty of dishes already, but if I were a Millennial, I’d have one set –two max--of everyday dishes which means every day including Sunday.
l looked up this year’s most popular patterns for everyday tableware (the only kind these days) and one is a solid black oven-to-tableware by Denby. Heavy on solid black and browns and grays. Dull, in other words.
Another best-seller is Kate Spade New York Charlotte Street that’s blue and white with concentric circles. Maybe too much drama to wear well.
The trend is no bone china or gold trim that has to be kept out of the dishwasher. Simple. Low maintenance.
Same for silverware or silver hollowware. Or, heaven forbid, lead crystal. Let me put it to you this way—the Waterford goblets you got for your wedding shower in 1980 aren’t going to your child’s house, ever. Break a stem and you’re out $100.
Still, I like to browse the elegance of Replacements Limited as much as the next person.. I love to tour the gigantic warehouse over east of Greensboro, see the dinnerware patterns owned by the royalty, craftspeople repair silver holloware.
There must be a market for china and crystal and silverware or their manufacturers wouldn’t be in business. I also know that Replacements won’t give you much for stuff you try to sell them. And you have to ship it or haul it over there. By the time you’re done, you might as well donate the stuff to a local thrift store and take the tax write-off.
Or better yet, get out the good china and enjoy it.
---Tammy Wilson is a writer who lives near Newton. Her latest book is Going Plaid in a Solid Gray World: Collected Columns, published by Red Hawk Publications. She will give a reading today, May 3, at 6 pm at Catawba County Library, Newton and will sign books during the Folk Art Festival May 14 in downtown Newton. Contact her at [email protected]