Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Keeping Parents’ Treasures

As you spring clean, be thoughtful of your family history, particularly when you clean out. I have been reading too often how the baby boomer generation is discovering that many of their worldly possession, the ones they painstakingly saved and preserved to be passed down, are being disposed of by no other than their own children they wanted to pass it onto. How sad is that!

This seismic shift of stuff is underway in homes all over America and I am sure elsewhere in the world. Yes, it is true many of the BB generation need and want to downsize their living space and give their things away. Unfortunately, many of the next generation; Millennials to be specific, don’t want the large dining or master bedroom suite. It just doesn’t fit into their transient life styles, small apartments or first homes.

Another aspect that is rather disturbing is how these young adults don’t seem to want their own possessions either. School yearbooks, trophies, T-shirt collections, toys, and all those adorable baby clothes the parents hoped their child would dress their baby in. But why, I ask? What’s wrong with revisiting those yearbooks? Why not save a few of those trophies they worked hard to get? Why not take all those quirky T-Shirts and fashion it into a useable item. And what about those baby clothes? Using them again saves money.

I recently read an article that said 20 & 30 year olds don’t appear to be defined by their possessions, other than their latest-generation cellphones. That they live their lives digitally through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, and that’s how they capture their moments. That their whole life is on a computer. And how they don’t need a shoe box full of greeting cards.

Even more distressing is how a 29-year-old estate marketer (I assume sells homes that will eventually be filled up with the very stuff she wants to get rid of, like old photos, bowls and cocktail glasses) would rather spend money on experiences. Just what does she think will help her remember these experiences if it isn’t stuff . . . souvenirs from a distant land she visited, photos of loved ones and friends that passed on, precious things her family cherished over the generations. And if this isn’t sad enough, her husband echoed, “I consider myself a digital hoarder . . .
if I can’t store my memories of something in a computer, I’m probably not going to keep them around.”   I ask, how can these Millennials be so shallow?  So short-sighted? So superficial? Is their family history meaningless? By time I got to the end of the article, I was fuming. When I read the last statement, I was downright smoldering.
A flippant professional organizer told a client, who should feel insulted, that the three large bags she filled of memories, one for each of her three sons . . . first-grade drawings or boxes with seashells glued to them . . . would not be appreciated. He said, “They made these things and gave them to you and you enjoyed them. The gift-giving cycle is now complete.” How can this so-called professional be so glib? So mindless? Perhaps he was never taught to appreciate gifts given and received? How will he feel when he is old and grey and finds he has no stuff left to reflect the life he lead. One thing for sure, he will have a difficult time healing from the initial loss of the tangible memories he gave away.

This brings me to the subject of my next post: educating the young on the principle of value.

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